NEW YORK (AP) — A scientist at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History is creating a sort of “silk library” that could be the key to designing newer and better materials.
Cheryl Hayashi has collected spider silk glands of about 50 species, just a small dent in the more than 48,000 spider species known worldwide. Her library could become an important storehouse of information for designing better materials for bullet-proof vests, space gear, biodegradable fishing lines and even fashion.
Some silk types can be stretchy, others stiff. Some dissolve in water, others repel it.
The secret to those differences likely lies in genes. Hayashi has been at this for 20 years, but improved technology only recently let scientists analyze the DNA of silk faster and produce artificial spider silk in bulk.