Transparent crab shells: the future of bendable screens?

Update: 4/17/2015


If you’ve ever wondered what sort of materials can be used to create bendable screens in the future, some researchers over at the Kyoto University have got the answer for you. They recently discovered that chitin, a long-chain polymer that is the main component of crustacean exoskeletons, can be used to create flat panel displays, solar cells and bendy screens.

The researchers took an entire dead crab, treated its body with some acids and chemicals to strip it of minerals, proteins, lipids, fats and pigments and they were left with with a shell entirely made out of translucent chitin. The shell was then immersed in an acrylic resin monomer, which turned it completely transparent. Fueled by the success of the experiment, the researchers then crushed up chitin from crab shells, spread the powdered material into a nanocomposite sheet, treated with the acrylic resin monomer, and ended up with an optically transparent panel.
What was great about this transparent material is that it doesn’t expand or lose stability when heated, which makes it a potential material for building bendable screens or solar cells that are molded into shapes. And the best part about this new material? It is easily obtainable. Chitin is found not only in crabs but in lobsters, shrimps, cell walls of fungi, exoskeletons of arthropods and insects and more – who would’ve thought the future of displays could be found in the shells of dead creatures?
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