Chicago (IL) - Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Germany have discovered a way to make spider silk three times stronger by adding small amounts of metal.
The new technique could make the material useful for manufacturing super-tough textiles and high-tech medical materials, inlcuding artificial bones and tendons.
The innovative method, developed by Seung-Mo Lee, utilizes a process called atomic layer deposition. The process coats spider dragline silks with zinc, titanium or aluminum, causing certain ions to penetrate the fibers and react within their protein structures.
Kim Thompson, CEO of Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, termed the discovery "absolutely incredible."
"Spider silk is already known as one of the strongest fibers found in nature and is recognized for its unparalleled capacity to absorb and dissipate energy in a very controlled manner. Being five times stronger than steel of the same diameter in its natural form, this enhancement reminds us again of the extraordinary potential spider silk has," said Thompson.