Spider silk darkened with a coating of carbon nanotubes can tell if your heart just skipped a beat.
Following a few simple steps, researchers have made a silk-nanotube hybrid that is tough, flexible and electrically conductive. The material might find uses in a range of bendy medical sensors.
Long known as one of nature's toughest and most flexible materials, spider silk is not naturally conductive. Scientists have previously married metals such as gold with spider silk, but those hybrids didn't allow the silk to stretch as much as usual.
To create a conductive but less rigid silk, Eden Steven at Florida State University in Tallahassee collected bundles of silk from a species of golden orb-weaver spider. He polarised a powder of carbon nanotubes so that the tubes would stick to the naturally charged silk, then mixed the materials with a few drops of water and pressed them between two sheets of Teflon.
When the material dried out, the silk was coated with a t
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