This could pave the way for a new class of bionicomposites, with a wide variety of uses.
Professor Pugno said: "Humans have used silkworm silks widely for thousands of years, but recently research has focussed on spider silk, as it has extremely promising mechanical properties. It is among the best spun polymer fibers in terms of tensile strength, ultimate strain, and especially toughness, even when compared to synthetic fibers such as Kevlar.
"We already know that there are biominerals present in in the protein matrices and hard tissues of insects, which gives them high strength and hardness in their jaws, mandibles and teeth, for example. So our study looked at whether spider silk's properties could be 'enhanced' by artificially incorporating various different nanomaterials into the silk's biological protein structures."