Published on January 17th, 2013 | by James Ayre2
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.
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.