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2013 News in Brief



Researchers develop method to design synthetic bone and quickly turn the design into reality

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Markus Buehler and team designed and printed this simulated bone and nacre with a brick-and-mortar pattern, shown here with real nacre found in the inner shell of molluscs. Photo / Graham BratzelResearchers working to design new materials that are durable, lightweight and environmentally sustainable are increasingly looking to natural composites, like bone, for inspiration. Bone is strong and tough because its two constituent materials, soft collagen protein and stiff hydroxyapatite mineral, are arranged in complex hierarchical patterns that change at every scale of the composite, from the micro up to the macro. While researchers have come up with hierarchical structures in the design of new materials, going from a computer model to the production of physical artifacts has been a persistent challenge. Now Markus Buehler and team have developed an approach that allows them to turn their designs into reality. In just a few hours, they can move directly from a multiscale computer model of a synthetic material to the creation of physical samples. Read a news story.