Spiderman isn’t simply a fantasy. In a unique way, he could soon become a reality.
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have just discovered how spiders-or at least their webs-could actually be integrated into the human body some day.
Spider silk, it’s been found, is pretty strong. In fact, it’s already famous for being one of the strongest known materials on Earth for its weight. And now, a new characteristic has been added to the benefits list. The magical threads produce a strong twisting motion when their exposed to humid air.
How is this helpful? Researchers believe the fibers could be used in multiple ways. Humidity-driven soft robots, sensors, smart textiles and green energy generators are all possibilities, says one of study’s authors, Anna Tarakanova, now an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut.
But best of all-at least from a health perspective- is the idea that the twisty, licorice-like threads could be used to make artificial muscles.
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The discovery revealed the amount the spider silk rotates can be carefully controlled by precision adjustments made to the air.
“We found this by accident initially,” says Dabiao Liu, an additional study author. “When we increased the humidity, the pendulum started to rotate. It was out of our expectation. It really shocked me.”
Arachnids are still creepy and definitely not a favorite bug to cuddle with, but maybe these eight-legged creatures deserve more respect than we give them. At least, from a distance, if nothing else.