A Momentary Flow

Updating Worldviews one World at a time

Spider silk is a truly remarkable material: it’s tougher than Kevlar, strong as steel, lighter than carbon fiber, and can be stretched 40 percent beyond its original length without breaking. Now, Japanese startup Spiber says it has found a way to produce it synthetically and, over the next two years, will step up mass production to create anything from surgical materials to auto parts and bulletproof vests. Artificial silk could be used to create artificial blood vessels and ligaments, as well as dissolvable sutures (for centuries, silk was used to dress wounds for its antibacterial properties). In the auto industry it could lead to bumpers that can absorb a very large amount of energy on the impact, improving driver safety. Spider silk owes its amazing properties to a protein named fibroin. Proteins are the catalyst for most chemical reactions inside a cell and help bind cells together into tissues. They are long chains of about 20 different types of aminoacids, which can combine into a nearly infinite number of configurations. The complex sequence of aminoacids that make up fibroin is proving tough to recreate in a lab. A “spider farm” wouldn’t produce nearly enough silk for industrial use, so companies around the world are turning to genetic engineering instead. Some companies modified goats to produce milk containing spider silk; others used silkworms to the same end; and others yet are using genetically modified bacteria. (via Artificial “Spiber” silk is tougher than Kevlar)

Spider silk is a truly remarkable material: it’s tougher than Kevlar, strong as steel, lighter than carbon fiber, and can be stretched 40 percent beyond its original length without breaking. Now, Japanese startup Spiber says it has found a way to produce it synthetically and, over the next two years, will step up mass production to create anything from surgical materials to auto parts and bulletproof vests. Artificial silk could be used to create artificial blood vessels and ligaments, as well as dissolvable sutures (for centuries, silk was used to dress wounds for its antibacterial properties). In the auto industry it could lead to bumpers that can absorb a very large amount of energy on the impact, improving driver safety. Spider silk owes its amazing properties to a protein named fibroin. Proteins are the catalyst for most chemical reactions inside a cell and help bind cells together into tissues. They are long chains of about 20 different types of aminoacids, which can combine into a nearly infinite number of configurations. The complex sequence of aminoacids that make up fibroin is proving tough to recreate in a lab. A “spider farm” wouldn’t produce nearly enough silk for industrial use, so companies around the world are turning to genetic engineering instead. Some companies modified goats to produce milk containing spider silk; others used silkworms to the same end; and others yet are using genetically modified bacteria. (via Artificial “Spiber” silk is tougher than Kevlar)

Notes

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    these are all really great and exciting applications but let’s not forget the most important
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