Spider Silk Discovery Opens Way to Super Matter

Method may "make it possible to build bricks from straw'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2010 3:16 AM CDT
Updated Mar 15, 2010 12:10 PM CDT
Spider silk is one of the strongest substances found in nature.   (Shutter Stock)

(Newser) – Spider silk is yielding secrets that could pave the way for incredibly strong building materials, researchers say. MIT scientists found that the silk uses a unique crystal structure that makes it both strong and able to bend without breaking. They believe it is possible to copy that structure to turn ordinary materials like wood or straw into flexible and strong "super-materials," the Telegraph reports.

Researchers found that nanocrystals 3 millionths of a millimeter across turned the inherently weak building blocks of spider silk into a material that is, pound for pound, stronger and less brittle than steel. They believe applying the same process to carbon-based building elements will create even stronger materials, potentially revolutionizing the whole field of synthetic materials.

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