Our group in collaboration with University of Trento, University of Wisconsin and Charité University uncovered the unique protective mechanism of highly resistant lenses located on the arms of Ophiocoma wendtii, a coral reef-dwelling brittle starfish. On the arms of this creature are hundreds of focal lenses that hold clues to making tough ceramics.
“Ophiocoma wendtii lenses are created in the open sea, not in a laboratory, and in effect we have discovered a strategy for making brittle material much more tough and durable under natural conditions,” said Prof. Pokroy. “It is ‘crystal engineering’ and tempering without heating and quenching – a process that could be very useful in materials science and engineering.”
“Just as nature exhibits creativity in improving an organism’s abilities in various contexts such as strength, sensing, and self-defense, we see very high efficiency by the brittle star’s use of existing raw materials under natural conditions to create hardy and precise transparent lenses,” says Prof. Pokroy.