TECH
18/02/2015 07:39 GMT | Updated 18/02/2015 10:59 GMT

Limpet Teeth Confirmed As The Strongest Material Known To Nature

The simple Limpet might not realise it, but its teeth contain the strongest material in the natural world.

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth have been examining the teeth and found it to be noticeably stronger than that of the previous record holder, spider's silk.

The team, led by Professor Asa Barber, found that the Limpet's teeth were made of tiny fibre composites using an iron-based mineral.

By weaving the mineral with a protein base the Limpet is able to create a material that's as strong as even the toughest man made materials. To give you some idea, it's able to withstand around the same force needed to crush carbon into a diamond.

limpet teeth

Because the fibres are both small and tightly bound together, the material contains very few errors. Professor Barber hopes that this discovery could lead to better manufacturing techniques and indeed better materials.

“We discovered that the fibres of goethite are just the right size to make up a resilient composite structure. This discovery means that the fibrous structures found in limpet teeth could be mimicked and used in high-performance engineering applications such as Formula One racing cars, the hulls of boats and aircraft structures."

Barber and his team have published their findings in the Royal Society's journal Interface and are hoping that the discovery will encourage bio-inspiration where companies using nature to develop better synthetic materials.