For many people, spider webs are nuisances that accumulate in the basement and garage, awaiting spring cleaning. Who knew that the silk from spiders is actually one of the most mechanically superior fibers known to man?
Because of its structure, spider silk is actually over five times stronger than steel and more flexible than a rubber band. It’s water-absorbent and incredibly resilient — it can absorb three times as much energy as Kevlar can. Because of these attributes, spider silk is proving to be valuable in manufacturing products for military, medical and construction use. This includes bullet-proof clothing, surgical sutures, airbags, underwater adhesives and artificial skin.
While spider silk has a lot of desirable qualities, it can be hard to come by. That’s why scientists are working on giving the silk-making trait to other species – like goats and alfalfa. These organisms have been modified to produce the same kind of silk that spiders do in order to gain large quantities quickly.
Find out more about spider silk, its uses and how scientists are working to increase the supply in this infographic from Sierra Cases. Can you think of a stronger material? Please let us know in the comments.
Infographic by Sierra Cases