What comes to your mind when you hear the word silk? Personally, what I visualize in mind is an expensive cloth, soft, shiny, but durable AF. That's before I researched about silk. Silk actually has tons of other uses aside for fashion. It can also be useful in industrial and commercial applications.
The results of this new research will be revolutionary for the silk industry. New findings say, by feeding graphene to silkworms, silk fibers can be stronger and may be able to conduct electricity, too!
Graphene is a carbon nanoparticle that has shown huge potential in energy, electronics, medicine, and more. A study led by Yingying Zhang from Tsinghua University says that by adding graphere to silkworm diet, it may bring unbelievable changes to silk products.
In the study
, researchers sprayed aqueous solutions containing either carbon nanotubes or graphene to mulberry leaves, and then collected the silk after the worms spun their cocoons.
The collected silk was subjected to tests to measure its strength and abilities. Researchers found out that the carbon-enhanced silk was twice as tough as regular silk and could withstand at least 50 percent higher stress before breaking.
Zhang’s team tested conductivity and structure. They subjected the new silk fibers to heat at 1,050°C (1,922°F) to carbonize the silk protein, and unlike untreated silk, the carbon-enhanced silk conducted electricity.
Experts say due to this finding, there are now endless possibilities for use of silk. It could be used in tech for electronic clothing that can “talk to our smartphones,” and scientists creating biodegradable medical implants could potentially incorporate these enhanced silks into their work.
Good job, silkworms!