Why spider silk is stronger than steel

Spiders were amongst nature's first engineers and they had a powerful tool to use in their constructions.
Loukia Papadopoulos

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Did you know that spiders use their silk for so much more than web-building? They also use it for hunting, securing their prey, protecting their eggs, hiding from predators, mating, and transportation. Silk has also been used in humans to heal bones.

This means that in many cases, spiders don’t even build webs focusing instead on other constructions such as trap doors or tunnels. In order to produce these complex creations, spider silk needs to be incredibly versatile and incredibly strong.

And strong it is! Each strand of spider silk is much thinner than a strand of human hair, however, it has, pound for pound, a stronger tensile strength than many types of steel.

One of the most versatile silks a spider can produce is called dragline silk. This type of silk is so strong because of the way the proteins are arranged within each strand. These strands consist of millions upon millions of protein molecules aligned tightly together.

Spider silk has inspired scientists to make their own kind of artificial silk that sometimes is even stronger than the real thing. Want to find out more about how real and fake silks are created and about what makes them so incredibly resilient? Watch this video.

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