Artificial Spider Silk
Researchers and students from the University of Cambridge, UK have been developing a new material that mimic's spider silk. For many years scientists and researchers have tried to reproduce materials with the strength, elasticity, and energy-absorbing capacity found in spider's silk. Arachnologists are amazed by the arachnids ability to naturally create this ultra-strong material in the wild by just using water as a solvent.
"The lab-made fibers are created from a material called a hydrogel, which is 98 percent water and 2 percent silica and cellulose, the latter two held together by cucurbiturils, molecules that serve as “handcuffs.” The silica and cellulose fibers can be pulled from the hydrogel. After 30 seconds or so, the water evaporates, leaving behind only the strong, stretchy thread. " - Smithsonian Mag
Below is a video highlighting the incredible technology behind artificial silk. Even though the finished product is not comparable to the strongest spider silk, the lab-made fibers are incredibly strong and avoid chemical solvents.
The modified applications for spider silk are endless (bulletproof vests, sail cloth, bike helmets, parachute fabric, etc) and most importantly 100% biodegradable. With the ability to absorb energy, the synthetic silk is ideal for protective fabric uses. The researchers behind this science have generated a partnership with outdoor sportswear company Patagonia. This is a promising start to this technologies unique applications.