Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Rewriting Life

Toothsome Plastic

Heat-resistant plastics are invaluable in applications such as high-tech military airplane engines, where low weight is crucial. But even strengthened with graphite fibers, current versions tend to shatter when hit. A new composite plastic from an unlikely origin could change all that.

Trying to improve the wear resistance of dental fillings, Ohio State materials scientist John Lannutti and dental researcher Robert Seghi forced a plastic through microscopic pores in tiny silica particles. Lannutti found that the process not only produced a wear-resistant filling but also improved resistance to impact. So he combined the silica with a heat-resistant plastic used in airplane engines, creating a material that Lannutti says should fail “gracefully” rather than “catastrophically.” BFGoodrich may use the silica-plastic composite in aircraft engines within a year, and Ford Motor has expressed interest in using the material to create lighter auto engines.

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.