A while back we talked about a few of graphene’s many uses such as curing cancer, treating cavities, and prolonging battery life. The wonder nanomaterial already sounds pretty incredible, but it now looks like researchers have only scratched the surface when it comes to harnessing its power. As unbelievable as it seems, graphene can apparently even help spiders to spin incredibly strong webs. As you probably already know, a spider’s web is already very strong as it is, especially the one created by the giant riverine orb spider. As far as biologists know, members of this species are capable of spinning the strongest silk in nature, but by adding a bit of graphene to the equation a group of scientists were able to make silk that’s 3.5 stronger than that of the giant riverine orb spider.
At first glance this might not seem like a big deal, however, the interesting part comes from the fact that graphene was not added to the webs in order to make them stronger, but rather, it was sprayed on the spiders themselves. A team of researchers from the University of Trento, Italy created a spray made out of graphene nanotunes and water and used it on some 15 Pholcidae spiders. The process by which the spiders were able to assimilate the material and use it to create the incredibly strong silk is not yet fully understood by the researchers. However, the team was able to learn that only some of the specimens were capable of the amazing feat, with others spinning an inferior type of silk while four of them ended up dying because of the graphene.
It is assumed that the spiders were actually trying to get rid of the foreign substance through their silk as opposed to being aware that graphene could make their webs stronger. According to the study, “spiders could spin graphene and nanotubes in the silk also as an efficient way of eliminating them from their organism.” This new type of silk is now considered to be among the strongest materials out there and could have a wide range of potential applications, ranging from reinforced armor to bionics.