CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused
 in the world.


Published on January 17th, 2013 | by James Ayre


Improved Solar Cells And Batteries Thanks To Research On Snail Teeth

More-efficient solar cells, and fast-charging lithium-ion batteries, are likely in the near future thanks to some new research on how the teeth of a type of marine snail grow. The newly-gained insights will lead to the less-expensive and more-efficient production of nanoscale materials, according to the researcher behind this work.


Image Source: University of California – Riverside

The research was started as a way to learn more about abrasion and impact-resistant materials. So the research was focused on the gumboot chiton, a foot-long sea snail that is found along the coasts of North America, from California to Alaska. The teeth of these chitons contains what is thought to be the hardest biomineral on the Earth, magnetite. So not only are the teeth very strong, but they are also magnetic. These incredibly strong teeth evolved because, essentially, the snails have to cut through rock to get to the algae that they eat. The teeth are located on a conveyer belt-like structure in their mouth that slowly rotates new teeth onto the tip of the structure, where they are then used to cut rock.

What is really interesting about this though, is how the incredibly-hard and magnetic outer region of the tooth forms.

Print Friendly

Tags: , , , , , ,

About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • UKGary

    Another possibility which becomes more likely with this nano-biological approach is the development of solid state room temperature sodium and potassium batteries. Like lithium these offer the possibility of high energy density, but unlike lithium sodium and potassium are low cost bulk materials.

  • Lydia Bridges

    Wow! This is a great discovery! -

Back to Top ↑