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Spiders inspire 'liquid wire'

FOX News

Spider webs are a wonder of the natural world. Not only are they beautiful to behold, they also are unique in how they stretch and move. Unlike most threads that sag when stretched, the sticky threads of a spider web can be stretched to their breaking point and then snap back into place without losing their tautness. Not surprisingly, scientists have been studying spider webs for years, hoping to uncover the mechanism that allows the material to stretch, yet remain tight. Now, researchers from the University of Oxford, UK and the Universit Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France believe they have the answer and have used this knowledge to build a new class of biomaterial called liquid wire.


'Some pig.' Scientists unravel the 'liquid wire' in 'Charlotte's Web'

Christian Science Monitor | Science

Researchers exploring bio-fiber engineering have unraveled the mechanism behind "Charlotte's Web" and discovered that the silk made by Charlotte in E.B. White's classic book would have been remarkable even without the words, "Some pig." Searching for the mechanism that enables a spider's web to spring back into shape without tangling and to catch heavy insects without being destroyed by their weight, researchers discovered thousands of glue-like droplets. The sticky lining both helped the spider capture incoming meals and spontaneously repaired possible tears in the web. In a paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers in Paris and Oxford, England, called the phenomenon "liquid wire." "The thousands of tiny droplets of glue that cover the capture spiral of the spider's orb web do much more than make the silk sticky and catch the fly," Professor Fritz Vollrath of the Oxford Silk Group in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University said in a press release.


'Some pig.' How researchers unravelled the 'liquid wire' behind 'Charlotte's Web'

Christian Science Monitor | Science

Researchers exploring bio-fiber engineering have unraveled the mechanism behind "Charlotte's Web" and discovered that the silk made by Charlotte in E.B. White's classic book would have been remarkable even without the words, "Some pig." Searching for the mechanism that enables a spider's web to spring back into shape without tangling and to catch heavy insects without being destroyed by their weight, researchers discovered thousands of glue-like droplets. The sticky lining both helped the spider capture incoming meals and spontaneously repaired possible tears in the web. In a paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers in Paris and Oxford, England, called the phenomenon "liquid wire." "The thousands of tiny droplets of glue that cover the capture spiral of the spider's orb web do much more than make the silk sticky and catch the fly," Professor Fritz Vollrath of the Oxford Silk Group in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University said in a press release.


Is it a solid or a liquid? 'Liquid wire' fibres that act like stretchy but sticky silk from a spider's web created by scientists

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Have you ever wondered why a spider's web does not sag in the wind or catapult that collide with it like a trampoline? The answer may lie in the physics behind a'hybrid' material produced by spiders, which they use to weave their magnificent webs. Now researchers have created their own version of the super strong silk, which could be used for stretchy materials as well as tiny motors. Experts from the University of Oxford and Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, described why a garden spider's orb web never sags but always stays taut, even when stretched to many times its original length. They revealed in a study published in PNAS that this is because any loose thread is immediately spooled inside the tiny droplets of watery glue that coat and surround the core gossamer fibres of the web's'capture spiral'.


Spider science: Researchers create synthetic silk that mimics the phase-shifting behavior of webbing

Los Angeles Times

Scientists have discovered a remarkable property of a certain type of spider silk: It acts like a solid when you stretch it, but liquid when you squish it. And they've proven that they understand how this "liquid wire" works by actually creating synthetic strands that can do the exact same thing -- solving a decades-old mystery in the process. The findings, described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal the bizarre phenomenon that may help spider webs remain taut, and could offer fresh insight for a range of technologies, including soft robotics. Spiders spin a range of web shapes, from funnels to nests, but the classic orb-like structures remain something of an archetype. Such webs typically have sticky droplets of glue on the strands of capture thread – the segments of spider silk that connect the radiating branches of these disc-like webs.