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Inspired by elements found in nature, researchers at the University of New Hampshire say the puzzle-like wavy structure of the delicate seed coat, found in plants like succulents and some grasses, could hold the secret to creating new smart materials strong enough to be used in items like body armor, screens, and airplane panels.

"The seed coat's major function is to protect the seed but it also needs to become soft to allow the seed to germinate, so the mechanical property changes," said Yaning Li, associate professor of mechanical engineering. "By learning from nature it may be possible to tailor the geometry and create the architecture for a smart material that can be programmed to amplify the strength and toughness but also be flexible and have many different applications.

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Category: Science