Scientists Create 'Liquid Wire' That Acts Like Spider’s Silk

Posted: May 17 2016, 7:55pm CDT | by , Updated: May 17 2016, 10:17pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Scientists Create Liquid Wire That Acts Like Spider’s Silk
Credit: University of Oxford

Inspired by spider's silk, the new liquid wire material acts both solid and liquid. It extends like solid and compress like a liquid.

Drawing inspiration from spider’s silk, scientists have developed a unique hybrid material.

A team of international scientists led by Oxford University has extensively studied how spiders build their silk and used it to create a novel ‘liquid wire’, which acts both a solid and a liquid.

Spider silk is an extraordinary natural material which continues to amaze scientists every time they observe it. Scientists have attempted to understand many times before how spider web can withstand different loads but they have not been able to create spider silk artificially that resembles the real one.

If you pull on a sticky thread in a garden’s spider web, you will found that the thread never crumbles. It always stays tight no matter how many times it has been stretched to its original length. The secret lies in thread itself which immediately spool inside the tiny droplets of watery glue and coats it in the spaces around the fibers of the capture spiral.

“The thousands of tiny droplets of glue that cover the capture spiral of the spider’s orb web do much more than make the silk sticky and catch the fly,” said Professor Fritz Vollrath from Oxford University. “Surprisingly, each drop packs enough punch in its watery skins to reel in loose bits of thread. And this winching behavior is used to excellent effect to keep the threads tight at all times, as we can all observe and test in the webs in our gardens.”

Using these details, researchers created a novel material in the artificial environment of lab which can extend like solid and compress like a liquid. The key is the subtle balance between fiber elasticity and droplet surface tension. When researchers recreated the thread using oil droplets on plastic filaments, it worked similar to the natural spider silk, spooling of filament as the thread stretched and compressed.

This novel technique may lead to more improved bio-inspired technology. This high-tech trap holds properties that can have extraordinary implications for the fields of materials, engineering and medicine.

“Our bio-inspired hybrid threads could be manufactured from virtually any components,” said co researcher Dr Hervé Elettro. “These new insights could lead to a wide range of applications, such as microfabrication of complex structures, reversible micro-motors, or self-tensioned stretchable systems.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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