Like all children, my childhood too was full of comics, movies and games. And the genre that used to interest me the most was superhero fiction; Spider-Man being my favourite. The power of Spider-Man lied in his strong and unbreakable webs which were made of spider silk. Even outside Spider-Man comic books, spider silk is known to be one of nature’s strongest materials. Spider silk is five times stronger than steel, by weight. Silk is both tough and highly dense. One of it’s best mechanical properties is that it’s highly ductile. It can stretch up to five times its relaxed length without breaking.
Scientists have developed a medical product that mimics this property; a flexible tape that can be peeled off a wound without damaging the tissue underneath. The sticky material can be useful in attaching tubes or sensors to the delicate skin or new born babies or elder people. The traditional medical tape being used right now is made by applying a sticky substance onto a thin backing material. In the process of making the tape, researchers first applied a silicon-based film to the backing material. They then used a laser to carve a grid pattern onto the silicon. The grid’s property is that of making some part sticky and other parts non-sticky, just like a spider’s web
Spider Silk should be used in hospitals all over the world now because it is environmentally benign. “They process proteins from water-based solutions without using petroleum products or organic solvents. From a manufacturing point of view, this is very attractive” (O’Brien, 1996). Spider silk is essentially a form of nylon and lasts very long as compared to other materials. This is a great invention in the medical field and can prove to be very safe incase of medical operations.
Here’s link to an interesting video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66QUEnkk4L0
Yoneda, Y. (2010). Scientists Unlock Secret Of Super Strong Spider Silk Material. Retrieved from http://inhabitat.com/scientists-unlock-secret-of-spider-silk-which-is-5-times-stronger-than-steel/
(2013). Why Biomimicry Beats Engineering: The Case of Spider Silk. Retrieved from http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/07/why_biomimicry074541.html