A particular group of mushrooms could potentially replace plastic and make futuristic body armour.
Fomes fomentarius, a fungal plant, has usually been used as a source of tinder and planted-based leather, but according to new research, it may have life-changing qualities.
A team of researchers from Finland have found the potential in the fungus in being used for "medical and industrial applications in the future".
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In a study the team conducted, they wrote that F. fomentarius: “Could offer a great source of inspiration for producing multifunctional materials with superior properties for diverse medical and industrial applications in the future."
According to a press release, the fungi could be used to design products like body armour, exoskeletons for aircraft, or surface coatings for windshields.
Pezhman Mohammadi, the senior author of the study and scientist at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, said: “There is a huge variety of solutions to different material engineering problems in nature, and not all of them have yet been properly explored."
The findings of the study were published on Wednesday (February 22) in the journal Science Advances.
One feature of the fungus that the team discovered was its ability to remain lightweight while possessing the strength of heavier materials like wood or hard plastic.
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“To increase the strength of materials, compromises usually have to be made, for example by increasing the density,” Mohammadi said.
“[Yet] when comparing the material properties of F. fomentarius structures, it is important to consider how light they are compared to hard plastic or wood."
Mohammadi said that he hopes that the new findings his team have made will help the next step be taken in the continuing development of materials like fungi.
“Collaboration will allow these discoveries to be used to develop, for example, the next generation of programmable materials capable of sensing, learning, self-repairing and adapting to different situations,” he added.
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