If you follow my blog, you know how much faith I have in graphene as a wonder material of the future. Recently, I wrote about some other amazing wonder materials, one of which is spider’s silk — a biological material that is at once stronger than steel, environmentally friendly, low-energy and high-information. So, my readers, if silk has so much potential, here’s a question for you: what would happen when you feed graphene to silkworms?
Silkworm silk, for those that don’t know, does not have the same qualities has spider’s silk. But if you feed silkworms graphene, scientists have discovered, something amazing happens: the silk produced takes on the qualities of graphene.
According to CSMonitor, “the experiment yielded a silk that is twice as tough as ordinary silk and can cope with 50 percent more stress. It also conducts electricity, meaning it could be used to produce wearable electronics.”
The scientists accomplished this by dissolving graphene in water and spraying the solution onto mulberry leaves, which were then fed to the silkworms. The implications here are huge because, due to the speed at which silkworms produce, high-strength silk fibers could be produced on a large scale, bringing graphene into the mainstream.
Such fibers could be used to create super-strong, protective clothing, environmentally-friendly electronics, and a range of other products, too.
Scientists still aren’t sure exactly how the silkworms are processing the graphene and incorporating it into the silk, so there is still a ways to go in understanding and optimizing this process. Another experiment has found that silkworms can be genetically engineered to produce spider silk. We can only imagine what feeding graphene to those creatures might yield!
I’m constantly amazed at the extraordinary results of experiments with graphene and other wonder materials. And remember, this is only the beginning. If graphene aficionados like myself are right, graphene could change our lives in the same way plastics did. I’ll be watching to see what comes with each development, and advise that you do too!