Spider silk can be made stronger by feeding the spiders that produce the silk aqueous dispersions containing graphene or carbon nanotubes:
[Researchers] in Italy and the UK have found a way to make [spider] silk a lot stronger, using various different spider species and carbon nanotubes or graphene. The research team, led by Professor Nicola Pugno at the University of Trento, Italy, succeeded in having their spiders produce silk with up to three times the strength and ten times the toughness of the regular material.
[...] "We already know that there are biominerals present in in the protein matrices and hard tissues of insects, which gives them high strength and hardness in their jaws, mandibles and teeth, for example. So our study looked at whether spider silk's properties could be 'enhanced' by artificially incorporating various different nanomaterials into the silk's biological protein structures."
To do this, the team exposed three different spider species to water dispersions containing carbon nanotubes or graphene. After collecting the spiders' silk, the team tested its tensile strength and toughness. Professor Pugno said: "We found that the strongest silk the spiders spun had a fracture strength up to 5.4 gigapascals (GPa), and a toughness modulus up to 1,570 joules per gram (J/g). Normal spider silk, by comparison, has a fracture strength of around 1.5 GPa and a toughness modulus of around 150 J/g.
Spider silk reinforced by graphene or carbon nanotubes (DOI: 10.1088/2053-1583/aa7cd3) (DX)
Related: The Strongest Natural Material: Sea Snail Teeth
Synthetic Spider Silk Fiber Created
(Score: 2) by coolgopher on Thursday August 17 2017, @08:22AM (4 children)
So now we just need to bio-engineer Really Large spiders so the production can be scaled up better.
If you're arachnophobic, this is Not A Good Thing...
(Is that Shelob I see lurking in the background there?)
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 17 2017, @08:45AM
Another Shelob! Well, what are you waiting for? Throw another shrimp on the barbie! Aussies ain't afeared o' no creepy crawlies, mate!
(Score: 2) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Thursday August 17 2017, @08:47AM
No large spiders are needed. Just one regular sized radioactive spider, and a mouthy teenage kid.
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 17 2017, @09:28AM (1 child)
(Score: 2) by kazzie on Thursday August 17 2017, @01:57PM
Just think what might have been if it were a radioactive tarantula...