Spider Silk is the Material of the Future Essay

Spider Silk is the Material of the Future Essay

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Spider Silk - the Material of the Future

Spider silk is well known for its strength yet elastic nature, and for this reason scientists
and engineers from a wide variety of fields have begun researching its structure and the
possibility and methods of synthesizing spider silk for industrial use. However, extraction of
silk from spiders is not cost effective, so most research is focused on synthesis of spider silk
either chemically or using DNA recombinant technology. Although research is still at an early
stage and ongoing, it is only a matter of time before spider silk can be successfully synthesized
for industrial use.
Nature is truly a master architect. With relatively few raw materials, it is able to create a
diverse array of biological life forms and biological materials essential for the survival of all
life forms on earth. Some of Nature’s materials continue to
amaze scientists and exceed the characteristics of artificial
materials. One such material is spider silk. Spiders rely on
their silk for a variety of functions, and their silk are
exceptionally light, tough, stiff, and extensible even when
compared to the strongest synthetic materials. Each family
of spider spins different types of silk, but silk from the
Nephila Clavipes (the golden orb-weaving spider) (see
Figure 1: Nephila Clavipes
figure 1) and Araneus diadematus (common garden spider) are the strongest among spiders,
and have been the focus of scientists’ research in recent years.[5]
Orb weaving spiders produce various types of silk from seven different glands. Dragline
and Viscid silk fibers are the strongest silk produced by orb weaving spiders, and are the most
closely studied. Dragline silk is used to make the ra...

... middle of paper ...

[8] Tirrell, David A. "Putting a new spin on spider silk. " Science. 271.n5245 (Jan 5,
1996): 39(2). Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. Phillips Academy. 24 July 2008
Pictures Sources:
Figure 1:
July 30, 2008. http://www.spiderzrule.com/spider806/IMG_3533_small.JPG
Figure 2:
Royal Society of Chemistry. July 30, 2008.
Figure 3:
MCAT. July 30, 2008. http://www.mcat45.com/images/Beta-Sheets-MCAT.png
Figure 4:
Citizendium July 30, 2008. http://en.citizendium.org/images/2/29/BetaSheetByDEVolk.jpg
Figure 5:
July 30, 2008. http://www.scq.ubc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2006/07/silkstrand.gif

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