People's teeth and bamboo stalks may not seem very durable compared to bars of steel. But, a new series of experiments finds, making metals mimic those materials could improve metals' endurance and strength.
A team of chemists from China and the U.S. manufactured steel with a particular microstructure, inspired by teeth and bamboo. The resulting material was both more flexible and able to handle higher amounts of stress than conventionally made steel. In factories, you want both qualities. Structural steel should be able to handle a lot of stress, but it should also bend a little when it comes near its stress limit. That way, it will give engineers more time to fix it before it fails, instead of shattering suddenly.