Spider silk opens doors for biodegradable implants and electronics


Spiders, which most of us don’t always like, are one of the best in producing silk that is stronger than steel and even tougher than Kevlar. The flexible silk has been the topic of discussion among researchers for decades and now it seems that it could well be used in developing a new array of medical implants and electronic devices that are biodegradable. A team of French researchers from the Institut de Physique de Rennes think that silk strands made by spiders and other insects such as silkworms allow light to pass through them just as a fiber optic cable.

The silk works just like glass fiber optic cables and could carry information for electronic devices. The breakthrough has opened doors for medical applications allowing surgeons to perform diagnostic exams using very small openings in the body. Being harmless, the material could also be used in implants such as silk bandages that monitor the patient for possible infections and once the wound heals there is no need to remove the monitoring device as it is simply absorbed by the body. The team has already developed a small implantable radio frequency heater that could sterilize an area against bacteria.

The team is also working on a small device that can shoot a laser beam with components that are fully compostable. Thinking a little into the future, the team believes that the tech could also be used in electronic devices and computer chips, making them biodegradable. The idea seems commendable as when it’s realized it could help in the development of cellphones that can be composted. Though, it might take a few decades for other components such as displays and batteries to become biodegradable, the research could open new doors for a new breed of electronics that don’t leach toxic chemicals while they stay in the landfill.

Via: Wired

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