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Spider silk is among the strongest and toughest materials in the natural world, as strong as some steel alloys with a toughness even greater than bulletproof Kevlar. Spider silk's unmatched combination of strength and toughness have made this protein-based material desirable for many applications ranging from super thin surgical sutures to projectile resistant clothing. Unfortunately, due to spiders' territorial and cannibalistic nature, their silk has been impossible to mass produce, so practical applications have yet to materialize.

Scientists have been able to create some forms of synthetic spider silk, but have been unable to engineer a material that included most if not all of the natural silk's traits.

Until now.

Researchers in the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis have engineered bacteria that produce a biosynthetic spider silk with performance on par with its natural counterparts in all of the important measures. And they've discovered something exciting about the possibilities ahead.

The new research, published Monday, Aug. 20 in Biomacromolecules, reveals that the tensile strength and toughness of spider silk remains positively correlated with its molecular weight -- the bigger the molecule, the stronger the silk -- even in synthetic silk with a weight nearly twice that of the previous record-holder.

To read more, click here.

Category: Science