A recent research by MIT’s Markus Buehler has revealed the strength that comes from spider silk’s unusual hierarchical arrangement.

A recent research by MITs Markus Buehler has revealed the strength that comes from spider silks unusual hierarchical arrangement. Buehler, along with David Kaplan from Tufts University and Joyce Wong from Boston University, has synthesized new variants on silks natural structure. They have found a method for making further improvements in the synthetic material. It was then revealed that an ear for music might be a key to making those structural improvements.
According to the reports by MIT news, Buehler said, Were trying to approach making materials in a different way. He explains, starting from the building blocks in this case, the protein molecules that form the structure of silk. Its very hard to do this; proteins are very complex. 
Various other groups have tried to construct such protein-based fibers by using a trial-and-error approach. However, this team has approached the problem systematically as they started with computer modeling of the underlying structures. This was done because it gives the natural silk its unusual combination of strength, flexibility and stretchiness. Making such structures is not an easy task. Kaplan, who is a chemical and biomedical engineer, modified silk-producing genes in order to produce new sequences of proteins. Then Wong, who is a bioengineer and materials scientist, created a microfluidic device that mimicked the spiders silk-spinning organ, which is called a spinneret.
Buehlers previous research concluded that the fibers with a particular structure, which is mostly highly ordered, layered protein structures alternating with densely packed, tangled clumps of proteins (ABABAB), helps in giving the silk its exceptional properties. Even after detailed computer modeling, the outcome came as a bit of a surprise, explained Beuhler. One of the new materials produced very strong protein molecules, however, these did not stick together as a thread. The other produced weaker protein molecules that adhered well. Also, it formed a good thread. This taught us that its not sufficient to consider the properties of the protein molecules alone. Rather, [one must] think about how they can combine to form a well-connected network at a larger scale, said Buehler. 
Currently, the team is producing several more variants of the material so that it can provide further improvement and test its properties. However, one wrinkle in this process may provide an advantage in figuring out which materials will be useful and which ones will not be any useful. This new and highly unusual wrinkle is music.
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