Researchers develop unique material from marine bath sponge skeleton

(Nanowerk News) Scientists of the TU Bergakademie Freiberg, together with an international research team, have deciphered the structure of a marine sponge skeleton and developed a novel three-dimensional composite material for the modern materials industry (Science Advances, "Extreme biomimetics: Preservation of molecular detail in centimeter-scale samples of biological meshes laid down by sponges").
The so-called "graphite" has unique structural, mechanical and thermal properties and could serve as a centimetre-thin catalyst for industry in the future. The model for the new material is the carbonized 3D skeleton of a marine bath sponge. This consists of collagen-containing spongin and is particularly stable and heat-resistant due to its multi-layer nanofibers.
carbonized sponge material
The carbonized sponge material.
In various experiments, scientists led by Prof. Hermann Ehrlich of the Technical University Bergakademie Freiberg have carbonized the spongin scaffolds at temperatures of up to 1200 degrees Celsius. The resulting carbon sponge resembles the shape and unique microarchitecture of the original spongin scaffold and is so stable that it can be cut into any shape with a metal saw. Coated with a metal layer, it also becomes a unique hybrid material with excellent catalytic performance.
"We have found a new way to use familiar bath sponges. Instead of using them only for cosmetics, we can now also use them for modern technologies," says Prof. Ehrlich happily.
Together with his team, he is working on initial proposals for the production of the biomimetically inspired catalyst for industry. For the past two years, the 29-member team has been researching the structure of the naschwachsenden marine sponges, developed by nature and in existence for 600 million years, in order to develop biomimetic models as alternatives to plastic frameworks for modern materials science.
Source: Technische Universitšt Bergakademie Freiberg
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