By isolating the chitin in shrimps' exoskeleton, researchers have created 'shrilk'—an alternative to plastic that can break down in two weeks to provide nutrients for plants.
The team from the Wyss Institute created the shrilk by mimicking the molecular structure of the chitin as closely as possible and then adding silk derivatives and wood flour. These additions help to ensure the material will not crack or shrink while it is being used for injection molding. The new material can be altered for use in water or dyed by altering the acidity of the compound, and can be 3D printed into large sizes.
The short-lived, bio-friendly material could provide an alternative for the mounds of plastic currently used to create temporary containers.
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