Transparent crab shell

6 Dec

Scientists in Japan have turned a crab shell completely transparent. They used a variety of chemicals and acids to strip the shell of anything with color: fats, lipids, proteins, etc. What was left was a material called “chitin,” which is a long-chain polymer.

Besides looking really cool, this material has some exciting technological implications. Once ground down, treated with a monomer and polymerized, this clear crab shell dust can then be infused into other polymers to create a material similar to that used in flat panel displays, except that it has a much lower coefficient of thermal expansion. This means that the material can withstand greater heat without expanding to much or breaking down. In fact, it is ten times more stable at high temps than traditional materials like glass-fiber epoxies. This heat resistance allows the material to be molded into shapes, or to be made into bendable screens. This is just one more example of mama-nature showing us how it’s done.

Abstract here. Image courtesy of Royal Society of Chemistry/Kyoto University.

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One Response to “Transparent crab shell”

  1. Kayla Perkes December 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    Woah! Thats cool! I think the crab needs a new suit!

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