Tag Archives | Silk

Scarf and Vest Made with Silk From a Silkworm and Spider Combination

transgenic silk blouse

0.4 Percent Spider Silk, 99.6 Percent Silkworm Silk Yoshihiko Kuwana et al., PLOS One, 2014. CC BY 2.5

via Popsci:

This silk scarf and vest have a nice drape and pretty color, but that’s not why everyone here at Popular Science covets them. No, we’re wishing they were ours because they’re made of super-strong, transgenic spider silk. Functional and good-looking! Our favorite.

The clothes were woven from silk produced by silkworms with a spider gene engineered into them. A mix of spider and silkworm proteins actually emerges from the spinners in the silkworms’ mouths. The resulting hybrid material is made up of less than 1 percent spider proteins, yet it’s 53 percent tougher than regular silk, according to the research team, five scientists from Japan’s National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences and Shinshu University.

Scientists have long known spider-silk proteins are exceptionally strong. Dragline silk, the stuff spiders use to make the spokes of their webs and to dangle creepily from ceilings, is five times stronger than an equal-sized thread of steel would be.

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U.S. Troops To Get Silky Boxers For Safer Combat

1303429625_protectiveboxers

Not only are US troops getting new helmets, but ‘ballistic boxers’ are also on the list to protect the privates’ privates. CNN reports:

Next month, the Army is going to start sending the “ballistic boxers” to soldiers in Afghanistan, and the Marines intend for each of their troops there to have four pairs of the “protective undergarments,” as they are formally known, before the end of the year.

The heavy silk boxers, which look like shorts that professional cyclists wear, won’t stop a bullet or shrapnel from an IED. But the silk can stop small projectiles like those kicked up by an explosion.

“It is expected to prevent fine sands and particles that are thrown up by explosives, so that the tissue wounds are cleaner, less ragged and easier to treat,” said Lt. Jamie Larson, a Marines Corps spokesperson. And since the silk is treated with antimicrobial agents, the boxers help protect injured troops from wound infections.

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Invisibility Cloak Made Of Silk

Photo: Gerd A.T. Müller

Photo: Gerd A.T. Müller

Discovery News reports that silk, a material used for thousands of years, could be the key to creating a soft, Harry Potter-style invisibility cloak:

For thousands of years people have worn shimmering silk to stand out in a crowd. Within the next few years people could wear silk to become invisible in a a crowd.

For the first time ever, scientists have created an invisibility cloak made from silk, and coated in gold.

The new metamaterial, as invisibility cloaks and their kin are technically called, only works on relatively long terahertz waves (a region of the electromagnetic spectrum between radio and infrared light), but the Boston-area scientists who developed the technology think that silk could work as an invisibility cloak at much smaller wavelengths, even in the visible range.

The research could lead to a wide range of optically unique materials for use in biomedicine or defense.

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