Spider Silk’s Biothermal Magic

March 6, 2012 By: Marshall Cutchin

OK, we’re writing about this today just because we love bugs, occasionally fish spider patterns, and think this is very cool.  Scientist Xinwei Wang, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State, has discovered with the help of two associates that spider silk has better heat conductivity than copper, silicon, aluminum and pure iron.  (Even more startling is that no one has ever tested spider silk for thermal conductivity before now.)

The thermal conductivity of spider silk actually increases as it is stretched, while most organic materials lose conductivity under stress.  Wang says it is because of the silk’s “defect-free molecular structure.”  The discovery “could lead to spider silk helping to create flexible, heat-dissipating parts for electronics, better clothes for hot weather, bandages that don’t trap heat and many other everyday applications.” From Science Daily.