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Science Technology

For Super-Tough Spider Silk, Just Add Titanium 53

A team of scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Germany has been experimenting with ways to infuse biopolymers with different kinds of metals. Finding some success with their tests on spider silk, the team was able to improve the tensile strength of the fibers, increasing the amount of energy required to break a strand as much as ten times. "Spider silk is not a practical engineering material, but materials scientists are trying to produce artificial fibers that mimic its properties. If they succeed, the result could be super-tough textiles. Knez thinks the technique has more immediate potential for toughening other biomaterials such as collagen. 'Mechanically improving collagen using our technique might open several new possible applications, like artificial tendons.'"
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For Super-Tough Spider Silk, Just Add Titanium

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  • Forget titanium (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @07:01PM (#27793861)

    How about using a coltan [] alloy instead?

    --John Henry

  • by greyhueofdoubt ( 1159527 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @09:39PM (#27794949) Homepage Journal

    Fyi, there are many differently-colored copper compounds and even more iron compounds. Iron is especially versatile because of its different oxidation states.

    So anyways, TiO2 is white, but it is not something your body could use- it is as inert as glass, basically. simply injecting it into the skin would do nothing except maybe cause some local psoriasis. Getting Ti into the organic side of things would usually require TiCl4, which is colorless, or an ester of Ti (also colorless). TiCl3 is dark red but again, not something your body would be able to do anything with. There simply aren't any biological processes in the body that use Ti.

    The one interesting thing about TiO2 that I can come up with would be that if you covered someone with it and imaged them in UV light, they would be almost completely black, as TiO2 (like zinc oxide) converts UV to heat. And that's why it's used in sunblock.

    If you want to take over the world I'd focus on lighter, more effective body armor and on capturing the hearts and minds of the young people. Your competition is FOX and Pinnacle Armor.


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