Navigation Links
Scientists unravel the mysterious mechanics of spider silk
Date:3/1/2011

Scientists now have a better understanding of why spider silk fibers are so incredibly strong. Recent research, published by Cell Press on February 15th in Biophysical Journal, describes the architecture of silk fibers from the atomic level up and reveals new information about the molecular structure that underlies the amazing mechanical characteristics of this fascinating natural material.

Spiders spin silk, which is remarkably strong and stretchy, to use in webs and to suspend themselves. "Silk fibers exhibit astonishing mechanical properties. They have an ultimate strength comparable to steel, toughness greater than Kevlar and a density less than cotton or nylon," explains senior study author Dr. Frauke Grter from the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies in Germany. "Because silk fibers continue to outperform their artificial counterparts in terms of toughness, many studies have tried to understand the mechanical characteristics of these extraordinary natural fibers."

Scientists know that spider silk fibers consist of two types of building blocks, soft amorphous and strong crystalline components. Dr. Grter's group wanted to develop a better understanding of the mechanical properties of spider silk fibers and implemented a multi-scale "bottom-up" computational approach that started at the level of the atoms that make up the amorphous and crystalline subunits and dissected the contributions of these building blocks. The group used both molecular simulations for studying individual and coupled subunits and finite element simulations for a comprehensive fiber model.

The researchers discovered that the soft amorphous subunits are responsible for the elasticity of silk and also help with the distribution of stress. The maximal toughness of silk requires a specific amount of crystalline subunits and is dependent on the way that these subunits are distributed in the fiber. Different structural architectures of the fiber subunits were tested for optimal mechanical performance. "We determined that a serial arrangement of the crystalline and amorphous subunits in discs outperformed a random or parallel arrangement, suggesting a new structural model for silk," says Dr. Grter. Taken together, the findings provide a clearer understanding of the mechanical nature of spider silk fibers and may be useful for design of artificial silk fibers.


'/>"/>

Contact: Elisabeth Lyons
elyons@cell.com
617-386-2121
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Queens University scientists behind safer drinking water in US
2. Scientists identify new implications for perennial bioenergy crops
3. University of Miami scientists track great hammerhead shark migration
4. Scientists find a new way insulin-producing cells die
5. TCD scientists discover that self-eating cells safeguard against cancer
6. MIT scientists say ocean currents cause microbes to filter light
7. Even in a crowd, you remain unique, UCLA life scientists report
8. Gender gap: Selection bias snubs scholarly achievements of female scientists
9. Brown scientists to discuss best practices for the oceans
10. Scientists discover agaves tremendous potential as new bioenergy feedstock
11. University of Miami scientists find new way to estimate global rainfall and track ocean pollution
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/6/2017)... Forecasts by Product Type (EAC), ... End-Use (Transportation & Logistics, Government & Public Sector, Utilities ... Generation Facility, Nuclear Power), Industrial, Retail, Business Organisation (BFSI), ... you looking for a definitive report on the $27.9bn ... ...
(Date:4/4/2017)... YORK , April 4, 2017   EyeLock ... today announced that the United States Patent and Trademark ... patent broadly covers the linking of an iris image ... same transaction) and represents the company,s 45 th ... latest patent is very timely given the multi-modal biometric ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... , March 30, 2017 Trends, opportunities ... (physiological and behavioral), by technology (fingerprint, AFIS, iris recognition, ... recognition, and others), by end use industry (government and ... immigration, financial and banking, and others), and by region ... , Asia Pacific , and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... a United States multicenter, prospective clinical study that demonstrates the accuracy of ... capable of identifying clinically significant acute bacterial and viral respiratory tract infections ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... partners with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to improve patient outcomes and quality ... Several trends in analytical testing are being attributed to new regulatory requirements for ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... At its national board ... Suneel I. Sheikh, the co-founder, CEO and chief research scientist of Minnesota-based Advanced ... for membership in ARCS Alumni Hall of Fame . ASTER Labs is ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... ... eye wash is a basic first aid supply for any work environment, but most personal ... rinse first if a dangerous substance enters both eyes? It’s one less decision, and likely ... dual eye piece. , “Whether its dirt and debris, or an acid or alkali, getting ...
Breaking Biology Technology: