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Cool as a Cucumber


  • Stephen L. Craig Prof.

    1. Department of Chemistry, Center for Biologically Inspired Materials and Material Systems, French Family Science Center, Duke University, 124 Science Drive, Durham, NC 27708-0346 (USA), Fax: (+1) 919-660-1605
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  • The author thanks the NSF (grant no. CHE-0646670) for support and D. Needham for insightful conversations related to bioinspired material design as well as S. Rowan and C. Weder for images used in the table of contents graphic.


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An inspired design: A new class of nanocomposites can reversibly switch its mechanical stiffness by up to three orders of magnitude in response to its environment. The architecture of the material is inspired by the dermis of the sea cucumber (see pictures), and the mechanically adaptable composites are potentially suitable for use in biomedical applications.