I think a list of biogenic (i.e: produced by life processes) materials with remarkable properties would make everyone's lives on the site easier.

Of course, super is pretty objective, so we're focusing on the following categories:

  • Stiffness: Usually it shouldn't stand by itself, but it's is an important secondary characteristic of materials. For instance, while spider silk is very strong, it's also very stretchy, limiting its use. Wait, sorry, that's the elastic modulus. Stiffness comes into play for structures made out of a certain material.

  • Tensile, Shear and Compressive strengths: These are pretty self-explanatory. In a nutshell, tensile strength is important when stretching, compressive when crushing, shear when you're trying to cut it with a scissor.

There are, of course, many more. For instance, shock loading which is important for bullet resistance, but that's a can of worms for another day.

Let's make a list of biogenic super materials that excel in one of the aforementioned categories.

  • $\begingroup$ Not a bad idea, how about "stickyness/adhesion", "corrosion resistance", "corrosive ability" and maybe some other categories people can come up with. $\endgroup$ Feb 29, 2020 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ I suggest you start an answer and mark it Community Wiki. I think that this is the only way a question which asks for an infinite list can possibly survive. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Feb 29, 2020 at 21:18
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP Okay. This is my first time doing it, could you check I didn't mess it up? $\endgroup$ Feb 29, 2020 at 21:36

2 Answers 2


Mycelium bricks are an interesting bio material, it is said they are stronger than concrete, i'm not sure whether in compressive strength, or shear strength, or in both. But, I do know that it localizes impact fractures as opposed to concrete, in which an impact will propagate far reaching cracks. they also float, and are great thermal insulators.Limpet teeth are made from a geothite crystal in a protein matrix, it is the hardest bio material known. hardness is between 268 and 646 kg m−1 m−2, tensile strength values range between 3.0 and 6.5 GPa, according to Wikipedia. Also a few years ago spider silk was infused with some carbon nanotubes, which further increased it's already impressive ultimate tensile strength. these are the only bio materials i think of right now, hope this helps.


Alright, this is the master post. Edit it to add new entries

Format of entries:

Material Name:


Elastic modulus and/or stiffness:

Description: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy


  • (preferably) clickable Link

For comparison: Ordinary steel (SAE 1020, a mild steel, 0.2% carbon, 0.45% manganese):

  • Tensile strength (ultimate): 420 MPa.
  • Tensile strength (yield): 350 MPa.
  • Compressive strength: about the same as tensile strength.
  • Shear strength: about 70% of tensile strength.
  • Elongation at break: about 15%.
  • Modulus of elasticity: 200 GPa.
  • Hardness (Brinell): 121.
  • Hardness (Vickers): 126.
  • Sources: everywhere, for example on MatWeb or on SubsTech.

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