Magazine article ASEE Prism

Extreme Protection

Magazine article ASEE Prism

Extreme Protection

Article excerpt

Materials

Evolution has allowed different species of shrimp to survive in a wide range of environments. The Pandalus platyceros, for instance, lives in shallow waters close to the ocean surface. Its cousin, Rimicaris exoculata, however, lives in waters 2,000 meters deep in hydrothermal vents where temperatures top 752 degrees F. Those evolutionary differences compelled researchers at Purdue University's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics to study their exoskeletons using a number of lab tools, including scanning electron microscopy and electron diffraction spectroscopy, to reveal their structural secrets and chemical compositions. They hope the insights gained from the study will help them design new advanced composite materials that can withstand extreme conditions. Both exoskeletons have two key components: chitin, a protein; and calcite, a bone like material. …

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