by Charles Q. Choi

Spider silk is the toughest known material made by organisms, more than 10 times stronger than Kevlar. Now scientists have enhanced it with carbon nanotubes, making it even tougher than normal spider silk and electrically conductive as well, findings that could lead to novel silk-based electronics.

The natural fiber’s strength makes it potentially valuable in a wide range of commercial applications. Researchers are also investigating its medical potential— for instance, they might find use in artificial skin or synthetic tendons

It can also contract greatly, suggesting it could serve in artificial muscles for robots or prosthetic limbs. For instance, a spider silk fiber only 1 millimeter thick could lift a 5 kilogram weight, suggesting it can carrying out 50 times more work than a comparable amount of biological muscle.

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