Spider Silk: Hacking Nature's Strongest Fibre

Michelle Strickland

Playlists: 'emf2018' videos starting here / audio / related events

Spider silk is the strongest natural fibre known to man - stronger than steel, tougher than Kevlar, spider silks act as natural glues, cements, elastic capture webs and physical gills, all to enable spiders to survive and hunt on 6 out of 7 continents on Earth (the exception being icy Antarctica).

I've spent the last 4 years researching spider silk at the University of Nottingham, learning how spiders have spent the last 386 million years adapting their silk to perform in a massive range of tasks. But now, scientists and industry professionals are looking into how we can adapt spider silk for our own purposes. Want a giant net that can catch falling Jumbos? We're on it. How about a biocompatible silk scaffold to help regrow that broken bone? We're on that too.

This is a 30 minute talk on the subject of spider silk aimed at those with an interest in, but no specialist knowledge of, science. There will be some pictures of spiders at the start but should otherwise be friendly for those who are interested but wary of things with eight legs.

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