Spider silk has been known for its strength from a long long time. It is one of the toughest things you can think of when it comes to threads on this planet. The strength of this substance goes to a level where steel gets a backseat in its comparison; it excels the former also with respect to weight as it is much lighter to carry around. It presents a unique blend of properties that make the engineers drool over it. But the most incredible fact about this silk is that every other spider has its own brand of silk and none of these are same. The strongest among all is created by one eight legged Araneae that gives a complex to all other members of this species.
A team of researchers from the Oxford University recently discovered that brown recluse spiders make use of an unmatched micro looping technology that makes their threads stronger than any other spider. When a joint research was carried out by researchers from Virginia’s College of William and Mary and Oxford, the studied that recluse spiders generate a thin and flat kind of silk which is completely different from what is produced by other members of arachnids. This difference may seem of no significance to anyone looking from a distance, the fact is this looping method renders some very unique properties to these spiders like flexibility that doesn’t allow the knots to be broken which makes a major difference in the overall quality of this silk.
Professor Hannes Schniepp from the William and Mary adds that, “The theory of knots adding strength is well proven. But adding loops to synthetic filaments always seems to lead to premature fiber failure. Observation of the recluse spider provided the breakthrough solution; unlike all spiders its silk is not round, but a thin, nano-scale flat ribbon. The ribbon shape adds the flexibility needed to prevent premature failure, so that all the micro loops can provide additional strength to the strand.”
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