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Contact: Ioana Patringenaru
University of California - San Diego

Abalone Shell

Caption: An abalone shell is made of thousands of layers of "tiles" made of calcium carbonate (more commonly known as chalk). A key to the strength of the abalone shell is a protein adhesive that binds to the top and bottom surfaces of the calcium carbonate tiles. The glue is strong enough to hold layers of tiles firmly together, but weak enough to permit the layers to slip apart, absorbing the energy of a heavy blow in the process. This pictures shows the tiles under various degrees of magnification.

Credit: Marc Meyers and Joanna McKittrick/Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego

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