Spider silk applications include hearing aids, football helmets

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In Oregon, Digital Trends has outlined the latest applications for spider silk, a material gaining interest because of its tensile properties and new, cheaper production processes.

According to the publication, researchers from New York’s Binghamton University are using spider silk to improve hearing aid microphones. Because of its thinness, spider silk can pick up the velocity of air instead of just its pressure. “Today’s miniature directional microphones sound bad because their response varies strongly with frequency,” Ronald Miles, a professor in Binghampton’s department of mechanical engineering, told Digital Trends. “They tend to lose low-frequency sounds and respond mostly to very high-frequency sounds. Our technology will enable the creation of directional microphones that have audiophile quality.”

At University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, researchers are using artificial spider silk to create strong, lightweight shields. Tests have shown the material can dissipate 70% of energy impacts. Applications include helmets for cyclists, football players, and skateboarders as well as armored vests for use by police or soldiers.

In Italy, researchers at the University of Trento fed spiders graphene. The result was spider silk three times stronger and ten times tougher than wild silk spiders.