Creating a new material is something that per individual, nowadays happens probably one per lifetime. Most recently I received an RFI that requires among the other challenging things a new material in order to be called a revolution and not an evolution of something that already exists.
I have been chasing for the last several years two types of materials one purely organic and plant-based and another exclusively synthetic, silicon-based that reacts homogeneously to electrical stimulation.
This recent RFI request reinvigorated my stereotypical inventor stubbornness in pursuing the quest for either of those new materials. So I start reading up again on things that could be of use to try new creative approaches to the problem at hand and I discovered the achievement of the team Proteus. It's a material that is almost impossible to cut!
The team sees Proteus as an ideal option for protective gear and construction materials. It could provide a barrier against tools and accidental damage without the mass of traditional (usually metal) materials. It might also show up in locks and safes that resist sawing, drilling, and other forms of cutting; the perfect home for the more paranoid among us to keep valuable items.
Proteus is a combination of ceramic spheres suspended inside a flexible cellular aluminum structure, which makes it only 15 percent as dense as steel. The shells of sea creatures often have a similar composition with layers of calcium carbonate suspended in a soft organic structure. The same way a shell can blunt teeth or claws, Proteus blunts tools.
I said that is almost impossible to cut because as you can see from the video incisions of over 2mm (standard for cutting) happen with persistence but is negligible considering how much friction (no pun intended :) is needed to make a dent.. darn another pun >.<
My research for new material started when I was trying to get rid of Laurus nobilis L. or simply called Laurel which grows overabundantly in our large backyard. In the process of cutting them down to replace the property perimeter with a fence, I discovered how resilient is to fire, cutting, torquing, and a plethora of other properties that you want into a material.
Phytochemical analyses have shown the presence of compounds of volatile and non-volatile oils, flavonoids, tannins, sesquiterpene alcohols, alkaloids, minerals, and vitamins. It has been (and in some places still actively) used as alternative medicine through home processing.
While almost everything I found within the research community about this hard to die plant is about healing properties, my fight in trying to not make them come back after they have been massacred with a machete, chainsaw, and all other cutting tools I had at my disposal, is more about its resistance to torquing and fiber structure that intertwines upon stress. My adventure with this plant clicked a switch in my head that this plant is more suitable for a Kevlar alike organic material than fixing rheumatisms!
I will talk more about what I have uncovered so far in future posts as I think it's worth sharing.
I am a strong believer that emulating mother nature in the design of new material is the only way to build more durable and eventually sustainable materials. As an inventor, I see things differently even from the common things. For example, you see here Chicken
I see... multiple dinners with an omelet for breakfast in the between ^_^ -- just kidding, we love our babies. Well, at least until they are don't play the freeloader card...tsk tsk.
and don't worry if you are vegan or no animal jokes, I have just the right analogy for you too. Diversity is everything, particularly in thinking.