Cambridge scientists reboot artificial spider silk production

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In Cambridge, United Kingdom, scientists have created artificial spider silk made from water, silica, and cellulose.

The fibers are spun out of a hydrogel that is 98% water with cucurbiturils comprised of silica and cellulose.  The result is a strong, stretchy fiber that can be used to make textiles and sensors.

“Although our fibers are not as strong as the strongest spider silks, they can support stresses in the range of 100 to 150 megapascals, which is similar to other synthetic and natural silks. However, our fibers are non-toxic and far less energy-intensive to make,” says Darshil Shah, a member of the team at Cambridge.

The fibers can also absorb large amounts of energy, unlike most synthetic fibers. The work was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.