Spider silk may spin bullet-proof material

June 30, 2014 12:00 am | Updated 05:38 am IST - New York:

Soldiers of the future may be wearing bullet-proof material made from spider silk, a new research suggests.

Researchers have genetically engineered silkworms to produce spider silk, and have used the material to create gloves that will soon undergo strength testing.

“Spider silk in nature has truly unique properties. If you think about a spider’s web, it’s designed by nature to intercept an airborne missile — a fly or another flying insect,” Kim Thompson, CEO of Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, based in Lansing, Michigan, said.

The silk naturally elongates and absorbs the energy of the captured prey, Thompson said.

“If you do the mathematical calculations - the weight of the fly, its speed, and the size of the individual fibre you capture it in - the strength-to-weight ratio is off the scale,” Mr. Thompson said.

For soldiers in particular, spider silk could provide a new type of protection beyond the traditional, solid Kevlar vest, ‘Live Science’ reported.

If one silkworm could be genetically engineered to make spider silk, its descendants could carry on that trait forever, he said. PTI

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