Spider silk: Webs measure up

Zhao Qin, Markus J. Buehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The complete elastic response of a spider's orb web has been quantified by non-invasive light scattering, revealing important insights into the architecture, natural material use and mechanical properties of the web. Developing advanced materials based on principles learnt from natural ones, like silk, can be an alternative to the laborious trial-and error approach conventionally used. The identification of the web's stiffness tensor helps to answer several questions, in particular, about the mechanical response of silk materials and how they play together in a web. Using these data, it is possible to predict the mechanical response of an orb web under gravity loading as a result of morning dew, including the effects on web stiffness and vibration signal transfer. It would be interesting to investigate the link between the amino acid sequence and the molecular structure of silk to the mechanical properties of webs and other macroscale architectures, like cocoons or funnel web.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-187
Number of pages3
JournalNature Materials
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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