Scientists unravel the mysteries of spider silk
“Spider silk has a unique combination of mechanical strength and elasticity that make it one of the toughest materials we know,” said Jeffery Yarger, a professor in ASU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and lead researcher of the study.
Spider silk is an exceptional biological polymer, related to collagen (the stuff of skin and bones) but much more complex in its structure. The ASU team of chemists is studying its molecular structure in an effort to produce materials ranging from bulletproof vests to artificial tendons.
The extensive array of elastic and mechanical properties of spider silks in situ, obtained by the ASU team, is the first of its kind and will greatly facilitate future modeling efforts aimed at understanding the interplay of the mechanical properties and the molecular structure of silk used to produce spider webs.
The team published their results in today’s (Jan 27) advanced online issue of Nature materials and their paper is titled Non-invasive determination of the complete elastic moduli of spider silks.
“This information should help provide a blueprint for structural engineering of an abundant array of bio-inspired materials, such as precise materials engineering of synthetic fibers to create stronger, stretchier and more elastic materials,” explained Yarger.
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