Drifting along the shores of the Pacific Ocean between central California and Alaska are “wandering meat loaves”, creatures that may improve battery manufacturing. That animal, the gumboot chiton, is a marine snail whose regenerating teeth could hold the secret to next-generation batteries. The snail feeds on algae in rocks using more than 70 rows of 0,5 mm-long teeth. When the outer rows of teeth wear down, the chiton replaces them by forming magnetite along scaffolding made of complex sugars, creating teeth that are both exceptionally hard and magnetic.
David Kisailus, a chemical and environmental engineering professor at the University of California, Riverside, wants to adapt that process to synthesise unnatural materials such as lithium iron phosphate, which is used as a cathode in lithium-ion batteries. “By doing this, we can control materials’ optical or electronic properties,” Kisailus says.
Watch a video of Kisailus explaining his plan to mimic Nature and improve battery manufacturing…
– Michael Rosell