Silkworms fed with graphene make super-strong silk threads that conduct electricity

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One of the most sought-after and popular natural fibres in the world of textiles is silk – not just for its smooth and soft look and feel, but also its strength.

A new study claims to have engineered a new way to make stronger and tougher silk fibers by putting on a spin on the old-school method of producing silk – feeding silkworms carbon nanotubes and graphene.

Often considered a “miracle material”, graphene has made its way into many different industries as a versatile carbon nanoparticle material. It has found advanced and innovative uses in the energy industry, electronics and nano-medicine among others.

Silkworms, which are the larvae (baby version) of silk moths, release raw silk in the form of threads from their salivary glands. Researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing have experimented with new kind of silkworm food – containing carbon nanotubes – that causes the silk they produce to be stronger and capable of conducting electricity.

The food of the silkworm larvae – mulberry leaves – was sprayed with a water-based solution that contained graphene or carbon nanotubes. The silkworms soon began to produce this new and exalted ‘silk’. Interestingly, as little as 0.2 percent (by weight) of the graphene was needed in the solution to achieve these amazing results.

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About the National Graphene Association (NGA)

The National Graphene Association is the main organization and body in the U.S. advocating and promoting the commercialization of graphene. NGA is focused on addressing critical issues such as policy and standards development that will result in effective integration of graphene and graphene based materials globally. NGA brings together current and future graphene stakeholders — entrepreneurs, companies, researchers, developers and suppliers, investors, venture capitalists and government agencies — to drive innovation, and to promote and facilitate the commercialization of graphene products and technologies.

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