An “artificial” spider web for medicine and engineering
To design at the computer and replicate under laboratory conditions the mechanical characteristics of one of the most surprising materials available in nature: spider silk. This is the idea of a team of international scientists who have recently drawn the attention of the scientific journal Nature Communications. Among them, Nicola Pugno, professor of Construction Science and founder of the Laboratory for Bio-Inspired and Graphene Nanomechanics at the Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering of the University of Trento.
“Spider web has a tenacity higher than Kevlar and a resistance comparable to steel, although it is six times lighter”, explains Nicola Pugno, whose studies on this super-material were published in the prestigious journal Nature in 2012. According to the Italian researcher, thanks to its biocompatibility and biodegradability, spider silk could be used in a number of sectors of engineering, physics and material science.
In the biomedical field, for example, spider silk could be used in wound suturing and tissue regeneration, thus allowing to make considerable advances in this field. The use of artificial silk is the most practical and economic method as compared to the collection of silk from spider rearing and could offer interesting perspectives for large-scale manufacturing.