Scientists create synthetic strands inspired from spider web

Scientists have developed synthetic strands after getting inspired from an extraordinary property of a certain type of spider silk. This component becomes solid upon stretching and turns liquid upon squishing it.

Researchers said that they have understood as to how this ‘liquid wire’ works. The research paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has unveiled that spider spin different types of web shapes, from funnels to nests.

Out of them, orb-like structure is something of an archetype. This type of web has sticky droplets of glue on the strands of capture thread. Basic work of the glue is to help capturing prey. Study’s senior author Arnaud Antkowiak, a fluid dynamicist at Pierre and Marie Curie University in France was quite impressed by the work of study’s co-author Fritz Vollrath, an evolutionary biologist at Oxford University.

Fritz’s paper on spider silk from 1989 led Antkowiak and his colleagues to try and experiment to use cobweb from living spiders. Antkowiak said that it was remarkable to see how stretchable these webs are. You keep on pushing them and they can go up to 95% compression.

The researchers have even filmed the entire process. The researchers then made the thinnest threads possible out of polyurethane and coated them with silicone oil so it mimics the glue droplets. In the case of spider, the effect could be beneficial in keeping its nest neat, preventing neighboring strands from touching.

Study researchers mentioned that spider’s silk has been known to be an extraordinary material for around four decades.

“Our bio-inspired hybrid threads could be manufactured from virtually any components. These new insights could lead to a wide range of applications, such as microfabrication of complex structures, reversible micro-motors, or self-tensioned stretchable systems”, said the researchers.

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