It is an undisputable fact that all the miracles of modern-day technology do not even close the perfection found in nature. Of course, nature has taken about 4.5 billion years to evolve into this astonishing immaculateness. The modern researchers often, take inspiration from its flawless mechanisms and materials to integrate them for making their technologies more capable and efficient.
On the same vein of thought, the scientists from the University of Michigan College of Engineering (UMCE) have suggested that using the human teeth to build airplanes would result in stronger and lighter planes. Tooth material and enamel is a real marvel of mother nature’s perfection, especially considering how your teeth have to be robust enough to tear through and crunch everything you throw at them throughout your life. They also endure the vibrations from chewing and other impacts without cracking or crumbling to dust.
Most of the metals develop stress cracks over time, while the synthetic rubbers can absorb the vibrations but alone can’t provide the required strength.So, when our teeth are compared with most human-made materials, they are clearly far superior.
Nicholas Kotov, a professor of chemical engineering at the UMCE, along with Bongjun Yeom, a post-doctoral researcher, have successfully replicated an artificial version of the material in our teeth which exhibits the same resilient properties of the real thing. Our natural teeth are made up of columns of hard ceramic crystals surrounded by soft organic proteins. Kotov and Yeom have instead, created their enamel from zinc oxide nanowires which are covered by a soft polymer material.
The scientists believe that the material created for the artificial tooth enamel could be used to develop better alternates to the modern-day metal and polymers in airplane fuselages and automobile chassis. The scientists claim that the fake enamel material is lighter and can withstand a greater amount of vibrations, pressures, expansions and compressions during flights, leading to a higher resistance to yielding and crack formation. The new materials could also be employed in creating electronics for the aircraft and rockets that have to endure extreme G-forces and vibrations.
But there is a problem in manufacturing the artificial tooth enamel in large quantities since it is incredibly time-consuming. Forty layers of the synthetic material were stacked up one-by-one to make just a single micrometer of the material, which is 1000th of a millimeter thick. To take this small sample made on a microscope slide and scale it large enough to build an entire plane would take years of research. However, the advantages of the prospects are too large to give up without giving it a fair shot!
You can read more about the study here which was published this week in the journal Nature.