Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login
Site Notices
9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 1/22/2002 10:55:50 AM EDT
A team of scientists from a Canadian biotech company and the U.S. Army has finally solved the mystery of how to make spider silk, a 400-million-year-old product stronger than steel and tougher than a bulletproof vest. The team extracted silk-making genes from two orb-weaving spiders and implanted them in cells from a cow's udder and a hamster's kidney. The cultured cells secreted a water-soluble protein "soup" that was squeezed through a syringe-like aperture, creating a crystalline silk filament like the fiber a spider uses to rappel from the ceiling or to make the spokes of its web. Details of the research, developed by Montreal-based Nexia Biotechnologies Inc. and the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command, were published in last week's issue of the journal Science. "The principle of biomimicry works," said geneticist Jeffrey Turner, president and chief executive of Nexia, referring to the development of new technology using models and designs drawn from nature. Turner explained that spider silk -- developed through 400 million years of evolution -- is at least five times stronger by weight than steel, with remarkable toughness and elasticity, a combination of properties unmatched by any known synthetic fiber. The ability to make spider's silk has been what Turner called a "Holy Grail" of material science for years. Turner said Nexia's goal is to strengthen the man-made silk enough so it can be used to make soft body armor. It is already strong enough to be made into soluble sutures for delicate surgery or as biodegradable fishing line. To produce the protein in large enough batches, the team has implanted the gene in the eggs of nanny goats so female offspring will secrete the protein in their udders. "All we'll have to do is milk the goats," Turner said.
Link Posted: 1/22/2002 10:56:30 AM EDT
[url]http://yesmoke.com/eng/news.asp?Year=2002&Month=1&Day=22&SubjectID=4&ShowMessage=234[/url]
Link Posted: 1/22/2002 10:58:49 AM EDT
Instead of using it to strengthen manmade silk, I wonder if they could weave it by itself to make stronger vests that could stop say, rifle rounds. This is a very kewl development.
Link Posted: 1/22/2002 11:01:48 AM EDT
yup, and they could weave it to make signs line "Radiant" and "Humble", sorry couldn't resist.
Link Posted: 1/22/2002 11:04:13 AM EDT
I saw something about this a few years ago on TV. They had them doing test with the spider webbing it was sweet they say that it can stop almost all rifle rounds. But the vests are going to cost a few grand .
Link Posted: 1/22/2002 11:07:13 AM EDT
I am an organic chemist who cut his Ph.D teeth in enzyme kinetics. I did alot of enzyme and protein modeling and crystallography. Well, anyway, one day a few years back I showed my advisor an article about a solved xray structure of one of the spider silk proteins. We were both dumbfounded and then speculated when and by what means this material would be made on a marketable scale. I said 2005 by expression in ecoli, my boss said 2002 by expression in a mammalian or other animal host. Thats why he was the advisor and I was the student. This was 5 years ago before this field of biomimicry was viable.
Link Posted: 1/22/2002 11:07:20 AM EDT
That would be great for our guys in the field I imagine.
Link Posted: 1/22/2002 11:19:09 AM EDT
I think, that the new super duper fiber would not be a vast vest improvement. Even if it were capable of say stopping a .50bmg at point blank! The vest without heavy plates would deform enough so that it would be pushed into the body creating a wound. Also all of the energy of the impact would be transmitted to the body. I don't know off hand how much energy the body can absorb but surely not as much as a main battle rifle will deliver. You will still need heavy plates to spread the energy out. I think a nice clean pass through would be less detrimental than 3,000 foot lbs of energy and the vest stuck in your lung....pat
Link Posted: 1/22/2002 11:20:03 AM EDT
I found a book or magazine article a few years ago about the Mongols. Seems they wore silk shirts into battle, but not quite for armor reasons. An arrow would still stick in you but the silk would prevent arrow barbs from catching. They would grasp the surrounding shirt and pull the arrow back out, rather than pushing it through like the cowboys in the movies do. [;)]
Link Posted: 1/22/2002 11:24:31 AM EDT
Originally Posted By JonnieGTyler: I found a book or magazine article a few years ago about the Mongols. Seems they wore silk shirts into battle, but not quite for armor reasons. An arrow would still stick in you but the silk would prevent arrow barbs from catching. They would grasp the surrounding shirt and pull the arrow back out, rather than pushing it through like the cowboys in the movies do. [;)]
View Quote
Actually, that is a myth. The Mongols wore silk because it made them too sexy to defeat. "I'm... too sexy for my yurt, too sexy for my yurt, so sexy it hurts... I'm... too sexy for this sword, to sexy for this sword, so sexy Mongol Horde..."
Link Posted: 1/22/2002 11:28:05 AM EDT
Originally Posted By paterpk: I think, that the new super duper fiber would not be a vast vest improvement. Even if it were capable of say stopping a .50bmg at point blank! The vest without heavy plates would deform enough so that it would be pushed into the body creating a wound. Also all of the energy of the impact would be transmitted to the body. I don't know off hand how much energy the body can absorb but surely not as much as a main battle rifle will deliver. You will still need heavy plates to spread the energy out. I think a nice clean pass through would be less detrimental than 3,000 foot lbs of energy and the vest stuck in your lung....pat
View Quote
I agree, and I also ran a few numbers through a calculator... Spider web is 1/5th as heavy as steel for its strength. Therefore, I assume the steel plate needed to stop a rifle round (ie. .223, 7.62, .30-06) would need to be at least 1/2 inch thick. Marginal for the .30-06 at point blank, but sufficient for standard .223. 1/2 inch plate, 12 inches wide, 14 inches long weighs 0.0108056300016 tons. This resolves to 21.6 pounds. 1/5th of that weight is about 4.3 pounds. Multiply that by two (you did want front and rear zones covered right?) and you get 8.6 pounds. Add in the standard armor plates (because you don't want body armor deformity) means adding in at least ballistic panels. Probably bringing you back to the same size/weight of current armor. Can you imagine the huge price difference between 'tried and trusted' Kevlar and 'Spidey-Silk?' I don't see the body armor angle working here. Just my .02 cents TheRedGoat
Link Posted: 1/22/2002 11:33:24 AM EDT
It's definitely cool news. I read that Nexia also has a herd of genetically modified goats that are slated to (but not yet) produce silk fibers in their milk. I have no idea how Nexia proposes to take this largesse and convert it into useable product. I guess that's not terribly hard, but maybe wasteful of goat milk. I suspect that commercial production of spider type silk is still a ways off though. It seems like a low production proposition, and as we all know, things only get cheap cheap cheap when you can produce them on a gargantuan scale. The other thing I would wonder about is why spider silk would be that much superior to linear polyethylene or aramid-- Must be something about the way the fibers lie together when formed into aggregate strands. Textile chemists out there? Anybody wanna admit to being a home economics major???
Link Posted: 1/22/2002 11:38:35 AM EDT
How do you guys know all this stuff??? [>:/]
Top Top