Grow building materials like trees?
A team of researchers working at Purdue University have just discovered what could be called the next super-material. It can also be called a carrot.
By looking at the structure that plants make up, a team of scientists have found that the building blocks that make up vegetables and trees share the same rigidity as steel. This could mean that scientists are on the verge of a discovery that will allow people to grow building materials like houseplants.
Cellulosic nanocrystals, the basic structures of plant life, have been explored in an experiment by scientists at Purdue. It is revealed that their rigidity is 206 GPa, which is equal to the rigidity of steel. Obviously, trees aren’t as hard as steel and you don’t have to be the Hulk to chew on a carrot, so there’s still some work that scientists will have to do to unlock this newfound plant power.
The nanocrystals they studied were only 500 nanometers long and three nanometers wide. The next major challenge will be to figure out how to build the perfect nanocrystalline cellulose structure and then grow it. Once this is done, we will be able to grow everything from houses to cars.