Atomic Layer Deposition Like Wolverine's
Super-strong spider silk has been produced using a process that sounds like it might produce a superhero itself - atomic layer deposition. The researchers were inspired by nature; mandibles of leaf-cutter ants and locusts are peppered with zinc, making them stronger and more durable.
(Overview of ALD spider silk)
The team fired beams of ionised metal compounds at lengths of silk from the orb-weaving spider Araneus diatematus using a technology called atomic layer deposition (ALD). As well as coating each silk fibre in a fine metal oxide, some metal ions penetrated the fibre.They tried zinc, aluminium and titanium compounds, all of which improved the mechanical properties of the silk.
"With all three metals, the fibres can hold three to four times as much weight," says Knez. The fibres also become stretchier, so that their toughness - the energy needed to break a strand - rises even more. "The work needed to break the fibre rises tenfold with titanium, ninefold with aluminium and fivefold with zinc," he says.
The developers of this technique, Seung-Mo Lee and Mato Knez at the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Halle, Germany, also believe that it can be used to strengthen other biomaterials. Like bones, for example - or extendable claws. Like those of Wolverine, perhaps?
In the new X-Men movie, we see how Wolverine becomes unstoppable. Adamantium, a rare (fictional) metal derived from meteor remains, is bonded to his biological skeleton. Like the real-life mandibles of leaf-cutter ants, his bones become much harder when metal is bonded to the original structure.
(Wolverine has adamantium applied to the skull)
Also, this is good news for the many law enforcement personnel who can't wait to throw super-strong webs at evil doers (see T-34 Security Robot Throws Nets and NET-2000 Shooting Net Rod Nails Perps ).
If you want to hang from a web like Spiderman, you're going to need ALD spider silk.
(Spidey waits patiently, suspended in web)
From For super-tough spider silk, just add titanium ; thanks to Zac for recommending this story, for which I finally figured out the X-men connection.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/5/2009)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 4 )
Related News Stories -
Self-Healing Circuits From Carnegie Mellon
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that could seal the punctures...'- Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.
Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme. - Frank Herbert, 1965.
Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
'I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily.'- J.G. Ballard, 1962.
3D Printed Graphene Aerogel - So Light!
'... light as cork and stronger than steel...' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Las Vegas Humans Ready To Strike Over Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot... had to be compensated.'
You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.'
Elon Musk Seeks To Create 1941 Heinlein Speedster
'The car surged and lifted, clearing its top by a negligible margin.'
Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.
Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Art imitates life imitates art.
Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'
First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.
VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.'
Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.
Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...
Galini 3D Printed Sleeping Pod Tiny Houses
'The houses are prefabricated units...'
MIT Boffins Create Psychopath AI On Purpose
There's a lesson in this for neural net AI engineers everywhere.
Skin Electronics 3D Printed
'June's body is a tracery of lambent lines, like some arcane capillary circuitry...'
Artificial Sensory Neurons For Prosthetics, Robots
Great for humans and robots!
China Uses Artificial Intelligence To Grade Student Papers
Looks like the City Fathers are starting to take over China's education system.
Electronic Tongues Will Rule The Kitchen
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories