Ever since humans found the existence of logic and reasons behind the way things are and the way they happen we have constantly tried to find something new. The more we research the more we find and the more we create questions for ourselves to answer. Spider silk is one such thing. Spider silk which generally people look upon as a thing of dirt has proved to be much more valuable than that. Researchers have found that the spider silk can serve as robotic muscle.
The story of spider silk
Humans who are not much into the developments science is making have looked upon spider silk as nothing else but dirt. Spider silk has been the proof of the existence of spiders and is generally regarded as unhealthy. This unhealthy goof-for-nothing spider is technically one of the strongest materials for its weight.
Researchers have found that this spider silk can be used to make artificial muscles or robotic actuators.
The spider silk science
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US have researched spider silk. The fibers in the silk respond strongly to the changes in the humidity in the surrounding. The spider silk contracts suddenly and twists when it detects humidity above a certain level. This was it exerts enough force as do the materials that the researchers are studying as actuators. Actuators are devices that move to perform a certain activity as controlling a valve.
The activity of contraction and twisting of the spider silk exerts a strong torsional force as published in the journal Science Advances.
The way to findings
There are some researches that are made because the researchers are searching something particular. And there are some that are found by mistake, or accidentally. The discovery of this property of spider silk is one such. Researcher Dabiao Liu said “we found this by accident initially. My colleagues and I wanted to study the influence of humidity on spider dragline silk,”
The researchers suspended weight to the spider silk in the form of a pendulum. They enclosed the apparatus in a chamber whose humidity the researchers could control. When the humidity inside the pressure the pendulum started rotating which was unexpected. The same experiment was done with many other materials including human hair and none depicted such behavior. This led the researchers to suggest the use of spider silk in robotics to control sensors by adjusting humidity.
More about spider silk
The biological reason behind this twisting property is still in research. There are theories suggesting that the contraction might be to safeguard the web in the morning dew and to increase its responsiveness to prey. But the real reason is still unknown.
Many lab experiments and observations later, researchers found the mechanism of this twisting property and are now trying to replicate it synthetically. This property yet unknown and inexperienced has opened new ways of research.
Spider silk has come a long way. Though researchers know its property of strength to weight ratio for a long time now its actual came into the limelight now. This has opened a wide range of possibilities and subjects of researches. Until now researchers did not know about this property. Now that they know it will definitely mark new things and will make the old better.