WHY YOUR SKIN IS SO TOUGH

Source: Mail Online by Richard Gray, April 1, 2015

 

Why your skin is so tough: Revolting experiment reveals how collagen straightens and stretches when pulled

  1. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory used real skin samples to study microscopic changes that resist tears when pulled apart
  2. They found collagen fibres in dermis change structure when under strain 
  3. The fibres go from being a disorganised tangle to straighten and stretch
  4. Scientists hope their findings can help develop new tear-resistant materials

It is probably the most unpleasant experiment you will read about today: what happens when your skin starts to tear.Researchers have uncovered the reason why skin is so difficult to tear even when put under extreme pressures, by cutting samples of real skin and attempting to pull them apart.They found that rather than simply tearing, mammalian skin actually has sophisticated stress resistance properties that prevent holes and cuts from expanding.

Using X-ray beams they were able to directly observe the microscopic changes that take place in skin to help it resist tearing during their stomach churning experiments.They discovered that the curly fibers of collagen that make up dermis of the skin straighten and stretch in response to a tear to share the load and prevent further damage.The findings help to explain why the thin layer of cells that cover our bodies is able to provide such an effective barrier to the outside worldScientists behind the research also hope their findings could eventually lead to stronger new materials that do not easily tear that could be used in aircraft, for example.

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