Scientists (and people prone to bumping into spider webs) have long noticed the stunning strength of the arachnid bug catchers. Now, a group of MIT researchers think they've unraveled the mystery of what makes the structures so sturdy, and they hope to emulate--and even exceed--them in a synthetic form.
The team has concluded, ironically, that the silk's strength results from an unusual arrangement of inherently weak hydrogen bonds--in other words, location, location, location.
This particular layout of tiny silk nanocrystals lets the hydrogen bonds work cooperatively to reinforce adjacent chains against external forces. The bonds break gradually, and … Read more