The lobster's sink is quite stiff. But the transparent material on the lower part of its tail may be even more surprising: laboratory tests show that the thin, elastic material is as strong as the rubber used to make tires.
As the shell surrounding the lobster body, the flexible material on the underside of the crustacean tail contains chitin, a fibrous material contained in exoskeletons of many insects and crustaceans. But team tests showed that the substance is about 90% water, which gives the elasticity of the material. It also has a plywood composition of microscopic layers, each of which has chitin fibers, proceeding mainly in one direction, but with those in the adjacent layers working in somewhat different directions. The same location helps to ensure the stability of the plywood in several directions, which does not have any layer of wood, researchers note.
The layered membrane is somewhat flexible and extends almost twice as much from its normal length before it begins to harden. This is reported by the team in the release Acta Biomaterialia . Stretching the material further makes it more rigid, they note. In general, the material is as rigid as those used to make garden hoses, tires and conveyor belts. Another advantage of the layered arrangement of the membrane: cuts or breakdowns that penetrate only a few outer layers, usually do not apply to integral layers, which makes the material "fault-tolerant". joints, such as elbows and knees, in armor or rigid suits, are offered by researchers.