Future iPhones could be made up of tools influenced by ant teeth

Ants have teeth, though.

ant walking on a green leaf
Even arrangement of Zinc atoms in ant teeth makes them strong enough to cut human skin. This concept can be used to make strong gadgets.

Everyone wants more slim & smart yet strong gadgets. That’s why, to keep consumers happy, manufacturing engineers have to note both, slim & tremendous strong. A group of engineers is working to get blueprints from one of the strongest and tiniest material on earth: the ant teeth.

Ant teeth are thinner than a single human hair but strong enough to cut through sturdy leaves without damaging themselves a bit. How those “Tiny” things are this strong? Thanks to the teeth’s even arrangement of Zinc atoms. The even management of Zinc atoms allows the equal distribution of force every time ant crunch on something. This feature can be used in human-made tools one day.

“Having the uniform distribution, essentially, is the secret. [Ant teeth] can even cut human skin without breaking — it’s hard to even do that with our own teeth.”

-Arun Devaraj, a senior research scientist at the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

To know everything about an ant’s teeth and study them enough to make teeth-influenced tools for pocket-size gadgets, researchers took the single tooth of an ant. Then, the team used a technique called atom probe tomography, which precisely prints the actual arrangement of atoms within an object.

“The plan, was to use that technique to really understand how zinc is distributed inside these ant teeth, and how that is leading to the strength that it’s getting.”

-Devaraj

After getting results from atom probe tomography, the research team found that atoms in ant teeth are distributed uniformly rather than in clumps. This uniform arrangement handles the strong and painful bite of an ant’s nibblers.

Each time an ant crunch on something, the fore spread perfectly equal to all the teeth because of the uniform arrangement of Zinc atoms. The research said because of these even arrangements, these insects require 60% less force to make the same impact as human teeth.

“Organic and inorganic chemists can actually work together to synthesize materials that are really strong, inspired by these kinds of materials,”

-Devaraj

By applying this concept of even arrangements to tools used to make human used technologies would give them many benefits of size and robustness. They would be cheaper and stronger and being slim at the same time. They would be more efficient and good for long-term usage.

Devaraj’s team is researching to know more and more about these tiny materials waling around us and know them enough to make revolutionary devices using them.

“We have already started looking at scorpion stings, for example, and the spider fang, and many other kinds of miniature tools to understand the kind of small tool arsenals of insects.”

-Devaraj

If the team is successful, then why not tech giants will use these strong and slim materials to make smart gadgets. That’s why someday you will have an ant teeth-influenced iPhone in your hand and scrolling your Twitter feed.

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