October 7, 2007 | David F. Coppedge

Nanofabrication Imitates Shells, Butterflies

A new plastic “strong as steel” has been manufactured according to the specs in seashells, reported PhysOrg.  “By mimicking a brick-and-mortar molecular structure found in seashells, University of Michigan researchers created a composite plastic that’s as strong as steel but lighter and transparent.”  (See these previous entries about how marine organisms manufacture their shells: 06/26/2003, 02/19/2004, 07/26/2004, 07/05/2007).
    Butterflies have inspired the development of new materials with “exceptional and unexpected optical properties.”  EurekAlert reported that the shimmering lights from butterfly wings and peacock feathers do optical tricks.  “Their brightly colored patterns are due to structural variations at the hundreds of nanometers level, which cause them to absorb or reflect light.”  By manufacturing materials with similar optical properties on the nanometer scale, researchers at Northwestern are making “very high quality optical materials with interesting properties.”

Neither article mentioned evolution nor owed any debt to evolutionary theory.

(Visited 47 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply