Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Studies of spider’s silk reveal unusual strength

18.06.2002


University of California, Santa Barbara scientists and U.S. Army researchers are making progress in the study of spider dragline silk, according to recently published proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The protein that lets spiders drop and helps the web to catch prey is what interests the researchers. The molecules are designed to be pulled; they are elastic and very strong. The silk can be extended 30 to 50 percent of its length before it breaks. It is stronger than steel and comparable in strength to Kevlar.

"The last decade has seen a significant increase in the scientific literature on spider dragline silk," according to the proceedings. "This interest is due to the impressive mechanical properties of spider dragline silk, at a time when biomaterials and biomimetics are both exciting interest in the rapidly growing field of materials research."



And why is the U.S. Army interested in this material? "The major interest is to use it as material for bulletproof vests, armor and tethers; there are many possibilities," said first author Emin Oroudjev, a researcher at UC Santa Barbara.

At UC Santa Barbara, the focus is on the basic research of learning how the protein folds and how it is organized in the silk fiber. Using atomic force microscopy and a molecular puller, the researchers are getting clues from imaging and pulling the protein. These observations help the researchers to model what is happening in the silk gland when silk proteins are assembling into spider dragline silk fibers.

They found that when the protein unfolds it is modular. It has sacrificial bonds that open, and then reform when the load lifts. This follows a pattern that has been found in other load-bearing proteins.

Spider silk is a composite material. It has crystalline parts and more rubber-like stretchy parts. The researchers found that single molecules have both, explained Helen Hansma, co-author and adjunct associate professor of physics. Spider silk is a composite material that is novel compared to the other load-bearing proteins that have been studied.


Contacts:
Emin Oroudjev -- oroudjev@ia.ucsb.edu, (805) 893-3672
Helen Hansma – hhhansma@physics.ucsb.edu, (805) 893-3881

Gail Gallessich Brown | EurekAlert!

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht A new method for the 3-D printing of living tissues
16.08.2017 | University of Oxford

nachricht Bergamotene - alluring and lethal for Manduca sexta
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular Force Sensors

20.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Producing electricity during flight

20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>