Paper: Strength of Recluse Spider’s Silk Originates from Nanofibrils

Jan 31, 2019 — By Qijue Wang
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We studied the ribbon-like silk fibers produced by the recluse spider, one of the most dangerous spiders in North America. Using high-resolution atomic force microscopy and many other powerful microscopic techniques, we found this ribbon silk is a “cable” made out of thousands of protein nanostrands, which are less than one-millionth of an inch in diameters. These nanostrands are bonded loosely and arranged parallel with the fiber axis. The mechanical properties of a single protein nanostrand were also estimated. This is the first time that the complete structural organization is determined for any natural silk fibers. We believe these nanostrands hold the key toward a comprehensive understanding of this incredible natural high-performance material. Such nano-fibrillar organization we found in the recluse silk can also serve as structural guidance for future development of advanced artificial materials.

See our Press Release: Spider Silk Fibers are Actually Super Strong Cables of Thousands of Nanostrands.

Our paper has been published in the journal Macro Letters (2018 impact factor: 6.131), the world's most highly ranked polymer journal. Our study was also featured as the cover story.


Q. Wang, H. C. Schniepp*
“Strength of Recluse Spider’s Silk Originates from Nanofibrils”
ACS Macro Lett. 7, 11, 1364-1370 (2018)

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DOI: 10.1021/acsmacrolett.8b00678
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