Spider silk combined with metal for optimal resistance

Halle, Germany - spider silk is lighter and more robust than steel, but now scientists have made three times more resistant by adding the metal. This process could be useful in medicine.

The researcher Seung-Mo Lee, of the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Halle in Germany and his colleagues found that adding zinc, titanium or aluminum to spider silk makes it more resistant to breakage or deformities.

They used a process called atomic layer deposition, which is not the son of qu'enrober spider silk metal, but also allows metal ions to penetrate the fibers and react with structural proteins.

The technique may be useful for designing ultra-resistant textiles and raw-edge medical, such as artificial bones or tendons. "We could make son very resistant to surgery," says Lee.

The idea was inspired by studies showing clear traces of metal in some parts of the body of insects. The jaws of some ants or locusts, for example, contain high levels of zinc, making them particularly hard.

Spider silk has always fascinated scientists, but produce large quantities for the market was hard to raise because spiders in captivity is difficult. Researchers have therefore sought an alternative to produce silk without spiders. Different approaches are tested: the production of fibers from the milk of transgenic goats with a gene for production of silk, or adaptation of the silk produced by other insects such as silkworms.

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