A strange tiny animal, the microscopic tardigrade is the inspiration behind a new material that could improve the efficiency of products like LED lights and solar cells.

The material under investigation is glass, and tardigrades (sometimes known as “water bears” or “moss piglets”) appear specialists in its production. These water-dwelling micro-organisms, which resemble minute caterpillars with eight stubby legs, are capable of shedding almost all of the water in their cells when exposed to extreme conditions, such as heat, cold or even the vacuum of space.

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