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New Discovery Shows That Spider Silk Conducts 800 Times More Heat

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Are you afraid of spiders? Disgusted when running into spider webs? Well, you shouldn’t – they actually have great applications, among the latest being an outstanding heat conductor.

This strange discovery has been made by the Iowa State University researchers, who found that spider silk conducts heat a whopping 800 times better than any other organic material (like silicon, aluminum, or pure iron).

This capacity comes from the proteins and nanocrystals found in the webs, but also from the fact that its molecular structure is flawless. The drag points of the web, the doubled corners where the orb-weaver spiders stop to change direction, make for the most resistant pieces of the silk.

The most interesting feature of webs is their elasticity, which would be a serious drawback in other materials, but in spider silk it’s actually a plus: the more you stretch a web, the more heat it conducts.

The team led by associate professor of mechanical engineering Xinwei Wang supervised the testing on 8 golden silk webs and, after some more testing, we could be using those webs for silk clothing, bandages and flexible materials for electronics. Nature is still full of surprises, isn’t it?

[via Inhabitat]

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