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Science

For Super-Tough Spider Silk, Just Add Titanium 53

A team of scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Germany has been experimenting with ways to infuse biopolymers with different kinds of metals. Finding some success with their tests on spider silk, the team was able to improve the tensile strength of the fibers, increasing the amount of energy required to break a strand as much as ten times. "Spider silk is not a practical engineering material, but materials scientists are trying to produce artificial fibers that mimic its properties. If they succeed, the result could be super-tough textiles. Knez thinks the technique has more immediate potential for toughening other biomaterials such as collagen. 'Mechanically improving collagen using our technique might open several new possible applications, like artificial tendons.'"

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