Building Better Bones With Ice

Gretchen Cuda in Wired News:

Betterbones1_fWhen it comes to manufacturing materials that are both strong and ultra-lightweight, Mother Nature is in a league all her own. But scientists are catching up.

A team of researchers in the Materials Science Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has managed to imitate the complex structures found in ice and mollusk shells, and the ultra-strong material could lead to everything from stronger artificial bone to airplane parts.

The scientists used the physics of ice formation to develop ceramic composites four times stronger than current technology. “Because we can control the freezing of ice we could get very sophisticated structures,” says Eduardo Saiz, a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley and one of the authors on a paper published in January in Science.

One important application of stronger ceramic materials is artificial bone.

More here.  [Photo shows nacre, the primary component of mollusk shells.]