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September 21st, 2005
Eve Downing, Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies: The ocean is a perilous environment for a soft-bodied creature like a sea snail, so nature gives it an advanced nanostructured armor system that is stiff and strong yet lightweight. It's called a shell.
Understanding the fundamental design principles of natural armor systems like shells may help engineers design improved body armor systems for humans in perilous situations, like soldiers and police officers. At MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, researchers are studying the structure and mechanics of the tough inner layer of mollusc shells, called "nacre" or mother-of-pearl, at extremely small, nanometer-length scales.
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