Spider Silk Makes Great Microchips That Dissolve in the Human Body

Spider silk is pretty amazing stuff. Pound for pound, it’s as strong as steel and more durable than Kevlar. It can be stretched to incredible lengths, but it’s no more cumbersome than cotton or nylon. Because it’s so awesome, scientists have long been searching for good ways to synthesize the stuff (it’s not exactly easy to milk spiders in any meaningful quantity), and they’ve made some good progress. Thanks to the latest work from biomedical engineer Fiorenzo Omenetto of Tufts University in Boston and Nolwenn Huby from the CNRS Institut de Physiques de Rennes in France, they’ll have a little extra motivation to get it done soon.

Omenetto and Huby are both presenting their work on Monday at a conference in Rochester, New York. It’s hard to tell who’s more impressive. Omenetto’s team is developing silk-based materials that look and act like plastic, but because of their unique chemical makeup, are completely and safely biodegradable. That means they could build special microchips that could be implanted inside of the body to serve a particular purpose and simply dissolve when the job’s done. A broken bone, for instance. Doctors might not be completely sure when the bone will be healed could theoretically implant one of their spider silk microchips onto the bone to monitor the progress, and it would simply disappear when everything is back to normal — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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