Silkworms eating graphene produce strong silk
(Mirror Daily, United States) Researchers are truly impressed by the powers of tiny insects. A new experiment showed that silkworms eating graphene are able of producing stronger, thicker silk. What’s more, the material can be used to conduct electricity. Scientists provide us with more details on their latest achievement.
A team of specialists in China came up with the idea of changing the diet of silkworms. Now, how do they get the insects to eat graphene? That’s simple. All they did was cover regular leaves in a solution containing graphene. The silkworms didn’t even feel the difference.
Graphene is a carbon form which, fed on silkworms, has impressive effects on the quality of the silk they produce. The researchers conducting the study observed that the new form of silk was thicker, hence stronger. The discovery is highly important because it proves that there is an easy way of obtaining high-quality silk.
There are many advantages of strong silk. Both the research field and the industry are interested in them. Silk can be used for manufacturing valuable clothing items. Moreover, the properties of strong silk and those of graphene could bring further improvements in the research field.
According to scientists, the new type of silk obtained from the silkworms eating graphene is two times stronger than usual silk. This means that it also has enhanced resistance, which is fifty percent higher than before.
The scientists put the silk to the test. They discovered its conductive properties after heating it.
However, the researchers explained that there are several reasons why they need to carry on with their experiment. First of all, they must document the precise process which makes silkworms incorporate the micro carbon elements. Secondly, they also need to investigate the ratio between the amount of graphene that the silkworms consume and the amount they actually use for producing silk. In order to find out, scientists must determine the exact quantity of the substance that silkworms eliminate from their bodies.
The Chinese team made an important discovery with their experiment. It stands as proof that strong and high-quality silk can be obtained through a quite natural process. Although the larvae are fed substances that don’t belong in their natural diet, the process of producing silk is still natural.
Specialists have been trying to boost the resistance of silk using chemical processes on the material. However, there is no need of that anymore. The new study on silkworms eating graphene was published in Nano Letters.
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