Steel Spider webs coming
LONDON (Reuters) – Spider silk isalready tougher and lighter than steel, and now scientists have made itthree times stronger by adding small amounts of metal.
The technique may be useful for manufacturing super-tough textiles andhigh-tech medical materials, including artificial bones and tendons.
“It could make very strong thread for surgical operations,” researcher Seung-Mo Lee of the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Halle, Germany, said in a telephone interview.
Lee and colleagues, who published their findings in the journalScience, found that adding zinc, titanium or aluminum to a length ofspider silk made it more resistant to breaking or deforming.
They used a process called atomic layer deposition,which not only coated spider dragline silks with metal but also causedsome metal ions to penetrate the fibers and react with their proteinstructure.
Lee said he next wanted to try adding other materials, including artificial polymers like Teflon.
The idea was inspired by studies showing traces of metals in thetoughest parts of some insect body parts. The jaws of leaf-cutter antsand locusts, for example, both contain high levels of zinc, making themparticularly stiff and hard.
Yeah, sure. We know where they really got inspired– Web of Spider-Man #100.