When the squid meets high technology

Grilled squid is a delicious dish for people to go out for a trip or a feast on the table. Before eating squid, many people will subconsciously check whether the serrations on the sucker at the end of the squid tentacles have been cleaned up. Although it does not necessarily harm the body, it is still a bit confusing to eat the teeth of the animal. But now, the squid teeth, which have always been cleaned up, ushered in their spring.

Recently, a mentor of the University of Pennsylvania’s Fiber Optic Technology Research Center, Mr. Milk Lehmi, published a research report in the “Chemical Frontier”. According to the report, the ring-shaped teeth of the squid predator arm contain the squid ring tooth protein, which plays an important role in reducing plastic pollution.

We know that for half a century, humans have left as much as 7 billion tons of plastic waste on the planet, and this number is still growing at an annual rate of 335 million tons. These “white pollution” has become a major problem in environmental governance. Although scientists have racked their brains, they still can’t take effective measures to cure the disease, and this squid tooth ring protein is expected to take on this responsibility. Because this protein has a unique molecular arrangement, it has self-healing, thermal and electrical properties. More importantly, it is biocompatible and can be used to produce fibers, coatings or films by extraction and biodegradation. Its efficacy is similar to that of plastics and can be used as an environmentally friendly plastic substitute.

The role of squid tooth ring protein is far more than this one. Since the components of the protein interact like oil and water and separate on the nanometer scale, they produce tightly entangled spirals, flat sheets and disordered entanglements. At the same time, these shapes in turn give the material a macroscopic level of properties. That is to say, this protein can be used to wrap the surface of ordinary textiles to form a wear-resistant coating with a special effect.

First, the coating of squid tooth ring protein can effectively reduce the main source of micro-plastics – washing machine wastewater. Microplastics refer to plastic particles less than 5 mm in diameter. Although they are invisible to the naked eye, they are extremely harmful and are called “PM2.5” in the ocean. A study by the University of Sydney found that on average, each garment produced 1,900 microplastic pellets that were difficult to separate and filter, and more than half would be discharged into rivers and oceans along with the sewage treatment system. If the squid ring protein is used on textiles, the micro-plastic particles that are separated from the clothes are much less. Secondly, the coating of the squid tooth ring protein greatly improves the abrasion resistance of the textile and has the function of self-healing. If damaged, as long as there is a little heat and pressure, the squid tooth ring protein can be self-healing, making the clothes radiant and radiant.

In addition, people can also make wearable devices by utilizing the biosolubility and degradability of the squid ring protein. For example, implantable health detectors can display information about our health and surrounding environment directly in clothing, or in energy, biomedicine, safety and defense, and are naturally non-polluting “smart materials”. .

You might ask: “How many squid tooth ring proteins can a squid extract? Can it meet the needs of our human production and life?” Indeed, an adult squid can extract only about 100 mg of squid ring tooth protein. But don’t worry, researchers have found a way to capture high-yield salmon without the need to capture the protein in E. coli by transgenic technology. The whole process only needs some sugar, water and oxygen, and then wait for the fermentation to be quiet. At present, this technology is still in the stage of research on how to mass production. If this technology can make a breakthrough, then we can prevent the generation of white garbage from the source and put on “smart clothing”.