There's no real life Spiderman but spider webs can soon help humans.
A new study led by Nicola Pugno at Italy's University of Trento consisted of feeding spiders some water solution and just waiting for them to make webs. The end result? Oh, you wouldn't believe it.
Spider silks are long known to be greatly light and flexible which makes it very useful in thriving and surviving. (You can take flying insects' word for it, you know.) But what if we make it sturdier?
"We already know that there are biominerals present in in the protein matrices and hard tissues of insects, which gives them high strength and hardness in their jaws, mandibles and teeth, for example," said Pugno. "So our study looked at whether spider silk's properties could be 'enhanced' by artificially incorporating various different nanomaterials into the silk's biological protein structures."
In short, they've taken advantage of arachnids' metabolic processes and added graphene and carbon nanotubes to their drinking water. This resulted to the spiders' production of an enhanced silk so strong it can carry a weight of a person! Yes, they were able to scale spider webs' quality that it can now carry a real human being!
This "super silk" turned out to be five times stronger than normal and has the level of strength as pure carbon fibers. Such composite material is now one of the strongest materials on earth.
"It is among the best spun polymer fibres in terms of tensile strength, ultimate strain, and especially toughness, even when compared to synthetic fibres such as Kevlar," said Pugno.
But, of course, further testing and refinement is still required.
Nonetheless, this opened a whole new world of possibilities. "This process of the natural integration of reinforcements in biological structural materials could also be applied to other animals and plants, leading to a new class of 'bionicomposites' for innovative applications," Pugno added.
Who knows? We might now be looking at the soon-to-be world's leading parachute maker!
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