Why doesn’t a spider’s web sag in the wind or catapult flies back out like a trampoline? The answer, according to new research by an international team of scientists, lies in the physics behind a ‘hybrid’ material produced by spiders for their webs.
Pulling on a sticky thread in a garden spider’s orb web and letting it snap back reveals that the thread never sags but always stays taut – even when stretched to many times its original length. This is because any loose thread is immediately spooled inside the tiny droplets of watery glue that coat and surround the core gossamer fibres of the web’s capture spiral.
This phenomenon is described in the journal PNAS by scientists from the University of Oxford, UK and the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France.
The researchers studied the details of this ‘liquid wire’ technique in spiders’ webs and used it to create composite fibres in the laboratory which, just like the spider’s capture silk, extend like a solid and compress like a liquid. These novel insights may lead to new bio-inspired technology.
Professor Fritz Vollrath of the Oxford Silk Group in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University said: ‘The thousands of tiny droplets of glue that cover the capture spiral of the spider’s orb web do much more than make the silk sticky and catch the fly. Surprisingly, each drop packs enough punch in its watery skins to reel in loose bits of thread. And this winching behaviour is used to excellent effect to keep the threads tight at all times, as we can all observe and test in the webs in our gardens.’
The novel properties observed and analysed by the scientists rely on a subtle balance between fibre elasticity and droplet surface tension. Importantly, the team was also able to recreate this technique in the laboratory using oil droplets on a plastic filament. And this artificial system behaved just like the spider’s natural winch silk, with spools of filament reeling and unreeling inside the oil droplets as the thread extended and contracted.
Dr Hervé Elettro, the first author and a doctoral researcher at Institut Jean Le Rond D’Alembert, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, said: ‘Spider silk has been known to be an extraordinary material for around 40 years, but it continues to amaze us. While the web is simply a high-tech trap from the spider’s point of view, its properties have a huge amount to offer the worlds of materials, engineering and medicine.
‘Our bio-inspired hybrid threads could be manufactured from virtually any components. These new insights could lead to a wide range of applications, such as microfabrication of complex structures, reversible micro-motors, or self-tensioned stretchable systems.’
The Latest on: Bio-inspired hybrid threads
[google_news title=”” keyword=”Bio-inspired hybrid threads” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Bio-inspired hybrid threads
- How to develop bio-inspired catalystson November 15, 2023 at 4:00 pm
"One solution could be to design enzyme-inspired catalysts that efficiently reduce CO 2 —transferring electrons to the molecule—and thus convert it into useful products. People often forget ...
- Tiny locust-inspired robots are champion long-jumperson November 13, 2023 at 4:00 pm
Earlier this year, we heard about some tiny robots that used a bio-inspired mechanism to jump high into the air. The makers of those devices have now tweaked the design, creating bots that jump ...
- Bio Inspired Innovationon September 19, 2022 at 3:27 am
The Master’s programme Bio Inspired Innovation offers a unique blend of knowledge and skill training that will support the search for and development of circular business-models and bio inspired ...
- Bio-inspired processingon September 8, 2022 at 2:47 am
Bio-inspired processing refers to devices and processes that are inspired by biology but may not follow quite as closely the principle of direct morphing. For example, they can be based on the ...
- Biomaterials and Bio-Inspired Materialson August 11, 2022 at 5:08 am
The Biomaterials and Bio-inspired Materials section publishes pioneering fundamental ... carbon-based materials, and their hybrid composites, both synthetic materials and those of natural origin. All ...
- Bio-Inspired Soft Locomotionon June 17, 2022 at 10:08 pm
Yet, most conventional mobile robots are made of entirely rigid parts or structures. Even bio-inspired robots of the yesteryear are often made from rigid materials and ...
- Bio Inspired Strain Sensorson January 3, 2020 at 2:02 pm
We are analyzing campaniform sensilla, which are strain sensors used by different species of insects, to understand their working principles in depth and develop novel engineering bioinspired sensors.
- Bio-inspired Mechanicson June 27, 2019 at 5:00 pm
Take a dozen or so fish hooks, progressively embed them in plastic with a 3D printer and attach them to the feet of your hexapod and you’ve got a giant cockroach! A team of researchers at ...
- Bio-inspired Artificial Pancreason May 1, 2019 at 9:31 pm
A bio-inspired approach: We have introduced the Bio-inspired Artificial Pancreas (BiAP), the first and only closed-loop insulin delivery system based on mathematical modelling of the pancreatic ...
via Bing News