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An image of a species of diatom, <em>Cymbela cistula</em>. Markus Buehler says diatoms are a good example of the way weak building blocks — in this case, fragile and brittle silica — can be used in biology to build strong and durable materials, by assembling them in structures organized differently at different scales.

Going nature one better

MIT researchers aim to learn biology’s secrets for making tough, resilient materials out of simple components, and then improve on them.

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