Tech UPTechnologyThey manufacture the strongest biomaterial in the world

They manufacture the strongest biomaterial in the world

The spider web is the strongest natural fiber that we humans know, more even than steel. Knowing this data, we can fully assess the feat of a team led by Swedish researchers that has manufactured the strongest biomaterial ever produced: because these artificial cellulose fibers –but biodegradable– are more resistant than steel and even than spider silk .

This group of scientists, led by Daniel Söderberg, from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH, for its acronym in Swedish) –university based in Stockholm-, has just reported the results of their study through an article in the journal ACS Nano from the American Chemical Society. The researchers have worked in collaboration with German colleagues from DESY – or German Synchrotron for Electrons – the largest German research center for particle physics, with headquarters in Hamburg and Berlin.

 

The ultra-resistant material they have manufactured is made of cellulose nanofibers, a structural polysaccharide in plants – it is part of supporting tissues. Through a new production method, these Swedish researchers have successfully transferred the unique mechanical properties of these nanofibers to a macroscopic material – which is seen with the naked eye, without the aid of the microscope – and very light that could be used as an alternative. eco-friendly to create the plastic used to make airplanes, cars, furniture and other products. “Our new material has potential even for biomedicine,” explains Söderberg in a press release published by DESI.

 

With the help of the ultra-bright X-ray source Petra III, located at the DESY research center in the city of Hamburg, Germany, the scientists were able to follow and optimize the process used in this study. “X-rays allow us to analyze the detailed structure of the yarn as it forms, as well as the material structure and hierarchical order in super-strong fibers,” explains study co-author Stephan Roth of DESY. “We made threads up to 15 microns thick and several meters long,” he adds.

 

Eight times stronger than spider silk

For his part, Söderberg points out: “The bio-based nanocellulose fibers that we have manufactured are eight times stiffer and their resistance is higher than natural spider silk fibers.” “If you are looking for a bio material” –continues the Swedish scientist–, “there is nothing like this. And it is also stronger than steel and any other metal or alloy , and than glass fibers and most other synthetic materials. ”.

These artificial cellulose fibers can be woven into fabric to create materials with a wide variety of applications . And, in addition, the scientists who have manufactured them consider that the production costs of this new material can compete with those of synthetic fabrics. “The new material can be used in principle to create biodegradable components,” adds Roth.

 

Image: Nitesh Mittal / Royal Stockholm Institute of Technology

 

Image (spider web): Pixabay

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