Javier Fernandez, along with the director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering where he is now a postdoc, has developed a thin, clear, flexible material known as ‘shrilk’, made from discarded shrimp shells and proteins derived from silk, which is as strong as aluminum but weighs half as much. Javier began his work on materials based on chitin, one of the most abundant materials in nature, while doing his PhD in the Nanobioengineering group at IBEC, where he was awarded the prize for best thesis by the University of Barcelona in 2008.
Javier’s invention, a tough, low-cost material inspired by insects’ hard outer shells, has a host of potential applications such as sutures for hernia repair, protective coverings for burns and wounds, or scaffolds in tissue regeneration. Shrilk could even provide a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic, as not only is it biodegradable, but its basic components are used as fertilizer and so will enrich the soil.
Read last week’s Scientific American article here.
Read more about shrilk here.