In recent years, material scientists have been creating new materials with a variety of advantageous properties that could enhance the performance of different technologies and devices. This includes hydrogel-based fibers and artificial skins, which could help to create soft humanoid robots, prosthetics, and even comfortable smart clothes or wearable devices.

Researchers at Donghua University in China recently created new hydrogel-based microfibers that are robust, self-healable and crack-resistant. These microfibers, introduced in Nature Communications, were fabricated using a process inspired by how spiders spin their webs.

"We noticed that although plenty of synthetic hydrogel fibers have been synthesized to mimic the basic functions of biological fibers like silk, muscle, and nerve fibers, most of them have very poor damage resistance, which greatly limits their durability," Shengtong Sun, one of the researchers who carried out the study, told Tech Xplore. "This may be solved by learning the structure of spider silk, which represents almost the limit of toughness of known natural biological materials."

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