Researchers have been trying to crack the code of spider silk for years. Its properties make it ideal for so many uses, but so far its recipe has remained the secret of spiders. Yet that doesn't mean researchers aren't coming up with amazing ways to use the silk spiders produce themselves. And this time, it's computer chips.
According to Wired, "Light can travel through a silk strand as easily as it does through a fiber optic cable" as discovered by physicist Nolwenn Huby of the Institut de Physique de Rennes in France.
"Huby and her team were able to transmit laser light down a short strand of the silk on an integrated circuit chip. The silk worked much like glass fiber optic cables, meaning it could carry information for electronic devices, though it had about four orders of magnitude more loss than the glass. Huby said that with a coating and further development, the silk could one day have better transmission capabilities."
Because spider silk is a harmless natural material, the electronics made from them could be put to use in the medical field, with devices such as bandages with embedded electronics that can monitor for infections, and which can be absorbed into the body. And because spider silk is biodegradable, the scale of e-waste could potentially be greatly diminished.
Of course, the possibilities are still a thing of the future. It is difficult to imagine being able to harvest enough spider silk to fulfill the needs of the global electronics industry. Scientists would probably still need to figure out how to craft synthetic silk, let alone figure out how to use silk in devices like batteries, chips and so on.
Still, the discovery of the latest amazing feature of spider silk should give us another reason to pause and be marveled by nature.