MSNBC brings news of a new nanotechnology achievement at University of Michigan:

Nanotech produces plastic as strong as steel
Researchers mimic structures found in seashells, using clay and glue

By mimicking structures found in seashells, scientists have created a transparent plastic that is as strong as steel…

Kotov and his colleagues have devised a process that builds materials one nanoscale layer at a time, similar to the way that mother-of-pearl, the iridescent lining of mussel, oyster and other mollusk shells, is built.

They built a machine that dips a piece of glass about the size of a stick of gum alternately into a gluelike polymer solution and a dispersion of clay nanosheets. These materials form cooperative hydrogen bonds with each other across the layers, which give rise to a “Velcro effect,” Kotov explained.

If we can do this now, just imagine how strong materials will be when we have atomic-level precision. –Christine