from the bioinspiration dept.
El Reg reports:
Limpets – a type of aquatic snail – [...]need high strength teeth to scrape algae off rocks. [...] Scientists used atomic force microscopy to pull the teeth apart at the atom level. They found the teeth contain a hard mineral known as goethite, which forms in the limpet as it grows.
[...]Professor Asa Barber from [Portsmouth] University's School of Engineering said: "Until now we thought that spider silk was the strongest biological material because of its super-strength and potential applications in everything from bullet-proof vests to computer electronics but now we have discovered that limpet teeth exhibit a strength that is potentially higher."
The research also discovered that limpet teeth are the same strength no matter what the size. Usually, the bigger a structure, the more prone it is to flaws. Limpet teeth break this rule, as their strength is the same no matter what the size.
These structures could be mimicked and used in high-performance engineering applications such as Formula 1 racing cars, the hulls of boats, and aircraft structures.
[...]The research was published [February 18] in the Royal Society Journal Interface.
 That may hold the record for the most scripts on a page with just 38kB of content.
Spider silk can be made stronger by feeding the spiders that produce the silk aqueous dispersions containing graphene or carbon nanotubes:
[Researchers] in Italy and the UK have found a way to make [spider] silk a lot stronger, using various different spider species and carbon nanotubes or graphene. The research team, led by Professor Nicola Pugno at the University of Trento, Italy, succeeded in having their spiders produce silk with up to three times the strength and ten times the toughness of the regular material.
[...] "We already know that there are biominerals present in in the protein matrices and hard tissues of insects, which gives them high strength and hardness in their jaws, mandibles and teeth, for example. So our study looked at whether spider silk's properties could be 'enhanced' by artificially incorporating various different nanomaterials into the silk's biological protein structures."
To do this, the team exposed three different spider species to water dispersions containing carbon nanotubes or graphene. After collecting the spiders' silk, the team tested its tensile strength and toughness. Professor Pugno said: "We found that the strongest silk the spiders spun had a fracture strength up to 5.4 gigapascals (GPa), and a toughness modulus up to 1,570 joules per gram (J/g). Normal spider silk, by comparison, has a fracture strength of around 1.5 GPa and a toughness modulus of around 150 J/g.
Spider silk reinforced by graphene or carbon nanotubes (DOI: 10.1088/2053-1583/aa7cd3) (DX)