MIT Labs Moves Ahead In Synthesising Spider Silk

Synthetic spider silk, like lycra in many ways, has a number of unique properties. The MIT lab that created it is being monitored by military elements, keenly interested in applications of this material to front-line technologies. The secret of spider silk’s combined strength and flexibility, according to scientists, has to do with the arrangement of the nano-crystalline reinforcement of the silk as it is being produced — in other words, the way these tiny crystals are oriented towards and adhere to the stretchy protein. Emulating this process in a synthetic polymer, the MIT team focused on reinforcing solutions of commercial rubbery substance known as polyurethane elastomer with nano-sized clay platelets instead of simply heating and mixing the molten plastics with reinforcing agents

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