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November 10th, 2009
Spider silk is renowned for its lightweight yet stronger-than-steel fibers, and now scientists are finding a new use for the fine, strong thread: as an artificial muscle.
Scientists at the University of Akron have developed two new ways to apply spider silk, and normal silk from silkworms, to artificial muscles. If refined and commercialized, scientists say the silk could be used in everything from robotics to microchip systems.
"No one thought about using spider silk as an artificial muscle," said Todd Blackledge, a professor at the University of Akron who studies spider silk. "But wrap a finger of drag line spider silk around your finger and dip it in water, and your finger will turn blue from the contraction of the fiber."
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