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Spiders Spin Silks of Superhero Strength
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Spiders Spin Silks of Superhero Strength

March 20, 2013
The strength of a biological material such as spider silk lies in the specific geometric configuration of structural proteins. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department, in collaboration with San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) researcher Ross Walker, found that this structure is as strong as steel, even though the "glue" of hydrogen bonds that hold spider silk together at the molecular level is 100 to 1,000 times weaker than steel's metallic bonds. This research was supported by an allocation of advanced computing resources supported by the National Science Foundation (TeraGrid, grant no. TG-MSS080030; NSF grants CMMI 06-42545 and MRSEC DMR 08-19762). To learn more, see the TeraGrid 2010 Science Highlights story, "How Spiders Spin Silks of Superhero Strength," on page 10 Here. (Date of Image: March 2010) Credit: Image courtesy of Ross Walker of SDSC, MIT and the Protein Data Bank; source: San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC-San Diego