Scientists have created spider webs of graphene that are so strong they are capable of entangling an airplane. The idea for this unusual experiment came from innovators from the University of Trento.
Graphene is the strongest material known to nature. It is actually modified carbon, barely 1 atom thick. For its amazing properties, it is used in numerous areas of human activity.
Inspired by the precision of spiders, scientists decided to create a super strong spider web for application in military and civilian industry.
They conducted experiments with cellar spiders (Pholcidae), dividing the arthropods into 2 groups, which they treated with different elements.
One group was sprayed with a mixture of water and graphene particles 200-300 nanometers in diameter. The other group was also sprayed, this time with a water solution of carbon nanotubes.
Some of the spiders began spinning a much weaker web after the experiment, while others began weaving threads a lot tougher than the usual.
Further experiments proved that the sturdiest threads were made by spiders who were sprayed with carbon nanotubes beforehand.
The web spun by their spinnerets was 3.5 times sturdier than that of their brood who were not enhanced in any way.
Now the scientists are facing an even greater challenge - to explain how exactly the graphene strengthens the structure of the spider web.
According to Nicola Pugno, who is the head of the experiment, the carbon is probably being integrated within the structure of the thread, not just covering it on the outside.
They have yet to find a suitable application for the graphene spider web discovered by the Italian scientists. The researchers believe that the spiders are capable of weaving a graphene spider web strong enough to catch an airplane finding itself in an extreme or catastrophic situation.