Biologists have studied the lubricant with which insects "lubricate" their exoskeleton, and found that this material reduces friction even more than the famous Teflon.
Teflon is one of the greatest successes of modern chemistry. Due to its excellent chemical and thermal resistance, it is widely used in industry and technology, medicine and electronics. One of the important applications of Teflon is lubrication: due to its incredibly low sliding coefficient, it acts as an excellent antifriction material. However, a substance recently found by German scientists is even more slippery than Teflon. They write about this in an article published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Antifriction substances are ubiquitous in nature. Some fish secrete them, speeding up movement in the water. Contain such components and joints of the exoskeleton of insects, otherwise they would quickly rub against each other. Konstantin Nadein and his colleagues at Keele University investigated these components of the darkling beetle Zophobas morio. Scientists have found that the lubricant is released through the pores in the carapace, squeezed out in tiny filaments about a micrometer in diameter, and then smeared as the limb moves.
This substance consists of a mixture of proteins, and the authors determined its antifriction properties using a classic test. By placing a substance between a pair of flat glasses, they measured the force required to displace one glass on top of the other. It turned out that insect lubricant reduces friction even more than even regular Teflon lubricant.
Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to turn this substance into a finished commercial product. The protein shake is too difficult to manufacture and expensive to isolate from the beetles themselves. So now scientists want to find a way to synthesize it artificially. Perhaps, in the future, such a lubricant will replace Teflon in the most critical areas of work.