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Materials Roundup

January 4, 2008

Researchers test the strength of bamboo as a structural material.


Banking on the strength of bamboo. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

It may look like a tree, but bamboo is actually a tall, fast-growing grass. Researchers at the University of Southern California are finding new uses for bamboo as a structural material material. The latest application is bamboo structural elements that can be assembled into bridges, including a 30-foot span recently constructed in China. The bridge easily supports trucks weighing eight tons or more.

In other materials news, University of Rochester scientists have developed a kind of rubber with a memory. It can be molded into a shape, and then stretched and twisted into something new. Heat it up, and it returns to its original shape. The group plans to use it for a variety of products, including sutures that tighten up when heated, pulling a wound closed.