Doing what a spider can

Researchers in Canada have produced an ultra-tough polymer fibre directly inspired by spider silk. Spider silk has remarkable elongation and stretch-resistance properties, pound for pound five to ten times tougher than steel or Kevlar it is the perfect target for biomimetic materials research. Now, Frédérick Gosselin and Daniel Therriault and their colleagues at the Polytechnique Montréal have investigated the origins of spider silk's mechanical strength and now developed microstructured polymer fibers that contain sacrificial bonds to allow them to spin their own artificial silk. They used a robotic deposition technique to create a coiled fibre of poly(lactic acid) (PLA) from dichloromethane solution.