Scientists led by Nicola Pugno at Italy’s University of Trento have combined spider silk with graphene and carbon nanotubes, producing a composite material five times stronger. Innovation Textiles reports that silk incorporating graphene and carbon nanotubes is produced by spider spinning, after feeding spiders with water containing the nanotubes.
Although only produced on a small proof-of-concept scale, testing has revealed the silk to be one of the strongest materials on earth. “Spiders placed in an environment with water solutions containing nanotubes or graphene may produce dragline silk with enhanced mechanical properties, realizing the highest fiber toughness to date, combined with a strength comparable to that of the strongest carbon fibers or of limpet teeth,” the study reports.
The research was published in the journal 2D Materials.