SHANGHAI, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Chinese scientists have developed the first whole full-length spider silk fiber obtained from genetically-engineered silkworms, exhibiting a six-fold toughness when compared to a bulletproof vest.
The researchers from Donghua University drew inspiration from nylon and Kevlar, a material used in bulletproof vests, and proposed a theory on the nature of toughness and strength, thus unveiling the basic structure of silk fibers.
Then, they employed a gene editing tool to synthesize whole polyamide spider silk fibers from transgenic silkworms, showcasing both high tensile strength and exceptional toughness, according to a study published in the journal Matter this week.
It is crucial to develop sustainable, eco-friendly, high-strength and ultra-tough alternatives to non-sustainable synthetic fibers, such as nylon, said the researchers.
The results pave the way for spider silk's commercialization as a sustainable substitute for synthetic fibers, and it can be used in making surgical sutures and comfortable bulletproof vests, according to the study. ■