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These Silkworms Can Produce Silk That Conduct Electricity

Who knew that feeding silkworms with graphene material can change the properties in their silk?


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Silkworms are known to be one of the oldest sources of silk. The silk they produce are one of the most elegant pieces of fabric in the textile industry today. A study was released showing that just altering what a silkworm eats can change the properties of the silk it produces, some silkworms were fed carbon nanotubes and grapheme as an example.

Graphene-fed Silkworms. Source: Giphy

The results were simply remarkable. Yingying Zhang led a team of researchers that conducted an experiment on the diet of a silkworm. They added graphene to the regular mulberry leaf diet of the worms. When they checked the silk that was produced by the experiment, it showed twice the amount of toughness as compared to regular silk and it could withstand 50% more stress before breaking. Also, the silk showed signs of conducting electricity after it was heat treated for carbonization.

This could very well be the start of modern textiles that can be used in biomechanics, communications, and biodegradable medical implants.

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