“Wandering meatloaf” molluscs are very interesting creatures, but you certainly wouldn’t want anything of yours getting stuck between their teeth. As researchers from Northwestern University discovered, the teeth of the world’s largest chiton species known as the “wandering meatloaf” mollusc contain rare iron. More precisely, the creatures’ teeth contain phosphate mineral santabarbaraite.
It was very surprising and we didn’t expect to find it,
It was more or less an accident.
But what could cause the teeth of the mollusc to be so strong? As Derk Joster added, the mineral is believed to be the culprit, enforcing the teeth without adding any extra weight. The high water content and low density play a major role.
The New York Times adds that the researchers wanted to create a new 3-D printer “ink” that was inspired by the chiton teeth. The ink began to harden as it became dry, and the final properties depended on how much phosphate and iron were added.
Mr. Joster explained:
It should be possible to mix the ink at a ratio that you can change immediately prior to printing,
And that would allow you to to change the composition, the amount of nanoparticles, and therefore the strength of the material on the fly. Meaning that you can print materials where the strength changes very dramatically over relatively short distances.
A peer-reviewed study is awaited to be published soon in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.