JERUSALEM, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Israeli researchers have deciphered the unique structure that gives the red algae its resistance to strong currents at sea, the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) reported on Tuesday.
The findings, published in the journal Advanced Science, may lead to future designs of artificial lightweight structures with superior mechanical properties.
Coralline red algae, widespread throughout oceans and seas, is characterized by a combination of flexibility and durability, based on a unique micrometric structure.
One main group, articulated coralline red algae, grows upright in an anchored branched structure that must endure stress from strong waves and currents.
The study was based on these algae's controlled biomineralization, a process in which living things form minerals to serve their own needs.
The team discovered that the calcite that the red algae secretes and crystallizes on an organic framework as part of its skeleton contains a large amount of high magnesium-calcite.
Furthermore, high-resolution scanning electron microscopy of the algae's cross section, revealed a highly porous structure, as high as 64 percent of its volume.
It was also found that the microstructure of the porous crystallized magnesium-calcite is helical, rather than cylindrical.
The researchers said that it is the combination of high porosity and a helical configuration that gives the red algae it's sophisticated, lightweight and compliant structure.
"We hope that, based on these findings, we can use innovative methods to produce artificial materials with similar properties of coil pores that will be as light, flexible, and strong as the skeleton of the algae," they concluded. Enditem