Flexible Rigid Biopolymer Inspired By Sea Cucumbers

A biopolymer that switches from rigid to flexible has been created by Case Western University researchers. It mimics the structure of sea cucumbers, which are able to change their skin from soft and flexible (for getting through narrow spots) to hard and rigid (armor to protect them from predators).


(Sea cucumbers alter their skin flexibility)

It is known that sea cucumbers have skin composed of very fine cellulose fibers. When attacked, surrounding cells secrete molecules that cause these "whiskers" to bind together; when relaxed, other cells release plasticizing proteins to loosen the fibers.

Weder's team isolated stiff cellulose fibers from the mantles of tunicates, sea creatures with skin similar to that of sea cucumbers. The researchers then combined the fibers with a rubbery polymer mixture. The fibers formed a uniform matrix throughout, reinforcing the softer polymer material. These intersecting points hold the network together, creating an inflexible material. "It's like a three-dimensional web in which these nanofibers overlap at certain points, and wherever they overlap, they stick to each other," says Weder.


(Sea cucumbers alter their skin flexibility)

It is hoped that this material could be used in biomedical applications, like implantable electrodes that could record brain activity over long periods of time, without the scarring produced by conventional metal electrodes.

Readers may recall the wet wired brain implants used in the 1995 film Johnny Mnemonic; some sort of flexible/rigid biopolymer would be just what the doctor ordered.


(Johnny Mnemonic's wet-wired brain implant)

Read more about the Adaptable Polymer Inspired by Sea Cucumbers. Thanks to Moira for pointing this one out.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/13/2008)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Material ")

New Material Absorbs and Stores Solar Energy
'The light that is thus trapped can be released by making a small spark near the glass.' - L. Sprague de Camp, 1940.

3D Printed Damascus Steel Now Possible
'... lined with durite, that strange close-packed laboratory product.' - Robert Heinlein, 1939.

3D Printing Of Metallic Glass
Great Scott!

Draw Circuits With Conductive Ink
'It's rewiring things... squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon along the printed circuitry.'

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Flatcat Robot Recalls Both Heinlein And Simak
Sorry, you'll need to read the article.

Nuclear Batteries May Pack Inner Punch
'... the most super-valuable substance in the solar system.'

Elon Musk STILL Wants To Make Heinlein's 1940's Speedster
'As she neared the barrier the car surged and lifted...'

Mercury Capsule Ablative Shielding
'...a synthetic which air-friction would erode away.'

Heinlein And Russian Quail In Orbit
'No earth-hatched bird can learn to fly in that fashion...'

Listen Up, Coppertop - Wearable Device Turns You Into A Battery
'It's our way or the highway.'

Solar Powered Robot Cleans Up Solar Panels For Free
'... with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length of Rama's six artificial suns.'

Spot Arm From Boston Dynamics Picks Up Like Heinlein's Hired Girl Robot
'Anything larger than a BB shot it picked up and placed in a tray on its upper surface...'

Electric Vehicle Prices Will Drop To $2,890
'the human seats took up two-thirds of the room in each'

TIGER Ultimate Mobility Vehicle From Hyundai
'He admired the fast-plodding, articulated legs...'

Drones Communicate With Each Other Using Quantum Encryption
'the curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits...'

Space Construction Tools For Large Structures By OAC
'Mass-produced in the orbiting factories...'

SpinCare Electrospins And Shoots Wound Dressing
'Over her lacerated right shoulder he sprayed art-derm...'

Tesla Model S And X Moves Toward KITT Knight Rider Styling
Now, that was a Pontiac Trans Am with some real style.

Sophia Robots By The Thousands
'There is a built-in microphone that hears everything you say, and an electric brain that selects a suitable answer.'

Scaly-Foot Snail Works With Iron
'Micro-Scale suit tiles fabricated by genetically engineered metal affinity bacteria...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.