Insight Can Be Used To Strengthen Synthetic Fibers
A spider found commonly in Britain has opened up new possibilities that the synthetic fibers used in the industries can be strengthened and made better. The spider is found in garden centers and while spiders commonly weave silk that is several micrometers thick and sticky, the ‘garden centre spider’ or ‘feather-legged lace weaver’ spins filaments just a few nanometers thick. Researchers from Oxford are now trying to understand how this kind of unusual silk is produced by the spiders. The spiders do not use any kind of glue to capture their prey. Rather researchers believe that the thin filaments are able to generate an electric charge.
Cribellum In Spider May Hold The Key To The Mystery
In order to research on the spiders, the scientists collected adult, female Uloborus spiders from Hampshire, UK garden centers. While the spiders were making their webs, the scientists observed them with three different microscopy techniques. The organ that stood out was cribellum which consists of one or two plates densely covered in small silk nozzles. As Dr Katrin Kronenberge said, “Uloborus has unique cribellar glands, amongst the smallest silk glands of any spider, and it’s these that yield the ultra-fine ‘catching wool’ of its prey capture thread. The raw material, silk dope, is funneled through exceptionally narrow and long ducts into tiny spinning nozzles or spigots. Importantly, the silk seems to form only just before it emerges at the uniquely-shaped spigots of this spider.”
Synthetic Fibers Has Diameter Of 10 Micrometers
The synthetic fibers produced are 10 micrometers in diameter. That is thinner than the ones made by the spider. If somehow, the researchers can mimic that impact on the strength of materials, then industrial silk can be made equally strong.