Washington, Mar 26 (ANI): If you thought getting a natural pearl was a matter of chance, then here's some news for you- artificial nacre, or mother of pearl, can now be mass-produced and that too at the cost of manufacturing paper.
Flameproof yet flexible, thinner than office paper but 20 times as strong, the new material could eventually make aircraft lighter and comfortably protect police from bullets.
"Natural nacre is this perfect marriage of stiffness, strength and toughness," Discovery News quoted Andreas Walther, a researcher at the Helsinki University of Technology and a co-author of the paper.
"Our artificial nacre compares very well to the natural material," he added.
Synthetic nacre has long been a goal for both material scientists and biologists.
In case of material scientists, man-made nacre could provide strong, lightweight, cheap and environmentally friendly material for a huge variety of products.
For biologists, synthetic nacre would provide a new way to study the complex mesh of soft protein and hard calcium carbonate that mollusks use as protection and women as decoration.
While artificial nacre has been produced before, but in small, labour-intensive amounts, said Walther.
Aiming to reduce those hundreds of steps down to one, the researchers drew on the Scandinavian nations' experience in the wood processing and paper making industry, and mixed hard clay particles and a soft, binding synthetic polymer.
The two materials are attracted to each other and arrange themselves in alternating layers.
When drawn out like paper, square feet of artificial nacre emerges in minutes.
One layer of the new nacre looks like paper but is thinner, stronger, and stiffer than paper.
However, the new nacre lacks one quantity-toughness. It tears more readily than paper, said Walter.
But, the new nacre is impervious to heat.
Synthetic nacre could be glued to a surface, or even painted on a wall, to make it flameproof.
The new nacre also blocks oxygen, making it ideal for use in electronics.
The study has been published in the journal Nano Letters. (ANI)