One of the world’s strongest natural materials has met one of the strongest artificial materials.
Researchers from the University of Trento, Italy conduced an experiment where they sprayed spiders—producers of naturally strong silk—with carbon-based graphene. Why? Curiosity, of course—the backbone of much great science.
From the experiment, the researchers found that some spiders produced silk that was 3.5 times tougher and stronger than the best naturally produced silk.
This from Gizmodo:
It’s not clear what happened to silk to provide the extra strength. One hypothesis is that the graphene and nanotubes coated the outside of the strands; another is that the carbon materials leached into the spider and became incorporated into the silk they produced.
However, the experiment is not fool proof. Some of the spiders died after being sprayed and others could not even produce silk. Before it can be used to create a type of super silk, the technique will require more work.