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November 27th, 2007

Learning from marvels in Nature

Nanotechnology is the latest innovation of science that is used to produce nano-materials of atomic and molecular sizes to fabricate devices within that size range.

While various devices are being invented/created using nano-materials, Professor Ashok Sahni, an eminent palaeontologist and Professor emeritus of Punjab University, Chandigarh has floated a new concept which is going to take the world of physicists by storm.

Prof. Sahni has studied fossil teeth for more than three decades. Delivering his Presidential Address in the XXI Indian Colloquium on Micropalaeontology and Stratigraphy, hosted by the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany (BSIP) at Lucknow on 16th November, 2007, he emphasized the need for an interaction between the nano-scientists and biologists.

He cites the example of rodent teeth, which he says are the hardest material available on the earth, because, a rat can cut through any matter.

‘The enamel of a rodent's incisor is the hardest material and the animal has a way of keeping it sharp,' says Professor Sahni. Comparing it with a Khukri he says the rodent teeth has a softer inner layer and a very hard outer layer made of apatite crystals. As the harder material is eroded due to usage, the exposed softer material gets hardened in no time.


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