Artificial spider silk is as strong as steel

A Japanese start up called Spiber has developed an artificial spider silk which it claims is equal to steel in tensile strength yet as flexible as rubber.

The artificial silk could be used to create artificial blood vessels and ligaments, as well as dissolvable stitches. In the automotive industry, Spiber says it could even lead to bumpers that can absorb a large amount of energy on impact, improving driver safety.

The company's manufacturing process involves decoding the gene responsible for the production of fibroin, a special protein found in spiders. Bacteria is then bioengineered with recombinant DNA to produce the protein, which is then spun into artificial silk.

Spiber says it can engineer a new type of silk in as little as 10 days and has already created 250 different prototypes.

The company is now building a trial manufacturing research plant to scale up production of the the silk, which is expected to open in 2015.

Laura Hopperton

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