One of the vital mysteries of spider silk which has restricted scientists' ability to produce artificial silks of the quality of natural silks has just been expounded by researchers in ASU's School of Molecular Sciences in collaboration with a team from San Diego State University and Northwestern University.
Spider silk is an extraordinary biological polymer, linked to collagen, but much more intricate in its structure. The ASU team of chemists is studying its molecular structure in an effort to harvest materials ranging from uses in mechanical engineering to synthetic, yet biocompatible, tendons.
Understanding at the molecular level how spiders perform such a complex process, and reproducing it in the lab, is the primary research objective. The team engaged a suite of magnetic resonance tools- NMR (or MRI) at ASU and San Diego State in addition to Cryo-transmission electron microscopy at Northwestern University.