Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, Inc. announced this afternoon that scientists have discovered a way to increase the strength of spider silk three-fold by adding small amounts of metal. Even though the spider-made fiber is already tougher and lighter than steel, this new technique could make it useful for manufacturing super-tough textiles and high-tech medical materials.

The discovery was made by researcher Seung-Mo Lee of the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Halle, Germany. Lee and his colleagues used a process called atomic layer deposition, which not only coated spider dragline silks with metal but also caused some metal ions to penetrate the fibers and react with their protein structure.

According to the press release, the discovery was based on the observation that some insects have traces of metals in their toughest body parts. For example, the jaws of leaf-cutter ants and locusts contain high levels of zinc, making them particularly stiff and hard.

“This new discovery is absolutely incredible,” commented CEO Kim Thompson. “Spider silk is already known as one of the strongest fibers found in nature and is recognized for its unparalleled capacity to absorb and dissipate energy in a very controlled manner. Being five times stronger than steel of the same diameter in its natural form, this enhancement reminds us again of the extraordinary potential spider silk has. Kraig Biocraft Laboratories is committed to continuing to develop sustainable spider silk for commercial use worldwide.”

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