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Researches at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University were able to engineer a thin, clear film that has the same composition and structure as arthropod cuticle.

Dubbed Shrilk because it is composed of fibroin protein from silk and from chitin, the material is similar in strength and toughness to aluminum alloy, but is only half the weight. Since chitin can be extracted from discarded shrimp shells it can be produced at very low cost. It is also biodegradable and can be molded into complex shapes.

These attributes make Shrilk suitable for a wide range of applications, including providing a cheap, environmentally safe alternative to plastic, and for making garbage bags, packaging, and diapers that degrade quickly. Since it is also biocompatible and strong, it could also be used to suture wounds that bear high loads, such as hernia repair, or as a scaffold for tissue regeneration.

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