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Apr 24, 2021

Synthetic gelatin-like material mimics lobster underbelly’s stretch and strength

Posted by in category: materials

**A lobster’s underbelly is lined with a thin, translucent membrane that is both stretchy and surprisingly tough.** This marine under-armor, as MIT engineers reported in 2019, is made from the toughest known hydrogel in nature, which also happens to be highly flexible. This combination of strength and stretch helps shield a lobster as it scrabbles across the seafloor, while also allowing it to flex back and forth to swim.


A lobster’s underbelly is lined with a thin, translucent membrane that is both stretchy and surprisingly tough. This marine under-armor, as MIT engineers reported in 2019, is made from the toughest known hydrogel in nature, which also happens to be highly flexible. This combination of strength and stretch helps shield a lobster as it scrabbles across the seafloor, while also allowing it to flex back and forth to swim.

Now a separate MIT team has fabricated a hydrogel-based material that mimics the structure of the lobster’s underbelly. The researchers ran the material through a battery of stretch and impact tests, and showed that, similar to the lobster underbelly, the is remarkably “fatigue-resistant,” able to withstand repeated stretches and strains without tearing.

If the fabrication process could be significantly scaled up, materials made from nanofibrous hydrogels could be used to make stretchy and strong replacement tissues such as artificial tendons and ligaments.

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