Spider-man is a movie that has all the youngsters jumping from one branch to another thinking that they too can turn into a spider. In the movie, the hero is just spinning his web in every corner to get hold of the criminals. Have you ever thought why? It is due to the strength a spider’s web owns. The web is considered to be stronger than steel according to the researchers. Looks like, the researchers’ experiment on the spider web is also all ready to break the records the movie has set.
The laboratory preparation of the synthetic spider silk is a very tedious task as there is requirement of speed in the generation process and use of specific materials and environmental conditions. But the researchers from the University of Cambridge have been able to develop artificial spider silk using an eco-friendly procedure. The best part is, the scientists have developed a new technique in which the room temperature, water, and other natural materials are enough to make a strong and stretchy fiber.
This high tensile strength material is a nature’s miracle. The synthetic spider silk was made using hydrogel a material that is made up of water, cellulose, and silica. By bringing about a change in the chemical interactions, the hydrogel can be pulled into long and thin fibers that can be held or tightened together to form a structure known as cucurbiturils. This human hair-like material can be woven into thicker braids.
Many researchers have been trying to study the spider silk and make it synthetic since a decade. The synthetic supramolecular fiber that is around 6µm in diameter can be braided using multiple threads, that is, about 10 to 100 of them. The dependency on the host–guest chemistry in the synthetic spider silk in order to form the silk at room temperature helps avoid the use of toxic substances. There is no requirement of heat or harmful substances in the making of the silk. The synthetic spider silk can be used for sailcloth of boats, hot-air balloons or parachute lightweight fabrics, and shrapnel-resistant military clothing. It can also be used in the biomedical field as well.
This biocompatible nature of the synthetic fiber makes it relevant for use in the biomedical devices where the requirement of energy absorption is critical. The synthetic fiber can also be used for health monitoring and sensing purpose. The new technique can be used to make other fibers as well.
The synthetic spider silk production with low energy and biocompatible products has opened a new arena for the researchers.