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Spiders spin stronger threads with nanotubes

Carbon sprays lead to silk tougher than any other fiber

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2:00pm, May 18, 2015
Spider

STRONG SPINNER   Spritzing spiders with graphene flakes or carbon nanotubes boosts silk strength and toughness.

Sorry, Kevlar. Spider silk loaded with carbon nanotubes may be the burliest fiber around.

When spritzed with the tiny tubes, spiders spin superstrong, supertough strands of silk. These hardy threads are the toughest fibers ever created, researchers report online April 25 at arXiv.org.

Such fibers could one day replace the heavy steel cables that haul elevator cars up skyscrapers, says materials scientist Mato Knez of CIC nanoGUNE, a research center in San Sebastian, Spain. But that day is still a long way off, says Knez, who wasn’t involved in the work.

“It will probably take another 20 years or more before people can produce a real product out of it,” he says.

Scientists have been jazzing up spider silk for years. It’s a good material for experimenting, says study coauthor Nicola Pugno, an engineer at the University of Trento in Italy. Silk is naturally strong, lightweight and tough &mdash

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