Super strong artificial silk? That’s so metal.

Super strong artificial silk? That’s so metal.

Giving revamped silkworm silk a metallic bath may make the strands both strong and stiff, scientists report October 6 in Matter. Some strands were up to 70 percent stronger than silk spun by spiders, the team found.

The work is the latest in a decades-long quest to create fibers as strong, lightweight and biodegradable as spider silk. If scientists could mass-produce such material, the potential uses range from the biomedical to the athletic. Sutures, artificial ligaments and tendons — even sporting equipment could get an arachnid enhancement.
“If you’ve got a climbing rope that weighs half of what it normally does and still has the same mechanical properties, then obviously you’re going to be a happy climber,” says Randy Lewis, a silk scientist at Utah State University in Logan who was not involved with the study.

Scrounging up enough silky material to make these super strong products has been a big hurdle. Silk from silkworms is simple to harvest, but not all that strong. And spider silk, the gold-standard for handspun strength and toughness, is not exactly easy to collect. “Unlike silkworms, spiders cannot be farmed due to their territorial and aggressive nature,” write study coauthor Zhi Lin, a structural biologist at Tianjin University in China, and colleagues.

The team’s real innovation may be that “they’ve managed to unspin silk in a less damaging way,” Holland says. Lewis agrees. “In my mind,” he says, “that’s a major step forward.”

This article is transferred from [Jinguan News];

Quick report parameters

According to the official measurement of China Earthquake Networks Center, at 3:49 on January 26, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake occurred in Luding County, Ganzi Prefecture, Sichuan Province, with the focal depth of 11 kilometers, the epicenter at 29.63 degrees north latitude and 102.01 degrees east longitude.


Basic background

Nearby villages and towns: the villages within 5 kilometers of the earthquake have bluestone slabs, and the towns within 20 kilometers have Yanzigou Town, Moxi Town, and Detuo Town.

Surrounding counties: the epicenter is 38 kilometers from Luding County, 41 kilometers from Kangding City, 56 kilometers from Shimian County, 70 kilometers from Hanyuan County, 83 kilometers from Yingjing County, 47 kilometers from Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, and 229 kilometers from Chengdu.

Topography of the epicenter: the average altitude within 5 kilometers of the epicenter is about 3984 meters.

Historical earthquakes: According to the quick report catalog of China Seismostation Network, 91 earthquakes with magnitude above 3 have occurred within 200km around the epicenter in the past five years. The largest earthquake is the 6.8 earthquake (8km away from the epicenter) that occurred in Luding County, Ganzi Prefecture, Sichuan Province on September 5, 2022. The distribution of the first 50 historical earthquakes according to magnitude is shown in the figure below.

Strong sense of earthquake

Someone was awakened by the earthquake warning

The earthquake caused a very strong sense of the earthquake. There was an obvious sense of the earthquake in Chengdu, Chongqing, Leshan, Meishan and other places.

Many netizens said that "I was awakened by the earthquake warning in the middle of the night".

After the earthquake, the China Seismological Bureau attached great importance to it and made an immediate deployment. The Sichuan Seismological Bureau sent a working group to the earthquake area to carry out on-site work. At the same time, the Seismological Bureau of Sichuan Province organized experts to hold an emergency consultation with the China Earthquake Networks Center Center.

According to the comprehensive analysis of earthquake experts, the epicenter of the earthquake is located near the Moxi fault in the southeast section of the Xianshuihe fault zone. It is an aftershock of the Sichuan Luding earthquake of magnitude 6.8 on September 5, 2022, with the epicenter distance of 8 kilometers.

According to the reporter, the epicenter of the earthquake was strong in Moxi Town, Luding County. After the earthquake, the fire rescue brigade of Hailuogou Scenic Area, with two vehicles and eight people, immediately carried out the investigation in Moxi Town. At 4:25, the full service headquarters of the fire rescue detachment of Ganzi Prefecture rushed to the epicenter of the earthquake. Up to now, a total of 16 vehicles and 78 people have been dispatched.

Since then, at least seven more earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 have occurred in Luding County, Ganzi Prefecture:

No casualties and

House collapse report

As of 6:00, the advance team of Sichuan Fire Garze Detachment, consisting of 28 people and 6 vehicles, had arrived at Moxi Town, Yanzigou Town, Dewei Town, Lengqi Town and Detuo Town, and organized personnel search and rescue and disaster investigation; The advance team of Ya'an Detachment, consisting of 30 people and 5 vehicles, has arrived at Wanggangping Township and Xinmin Township, and organized personnel search and rescue and disaster investigation. A total of 120 people, 23 vehicles and 3 dogs are rushing to the epicenter of the earthquake in Ganzi and Ya'an. Ya'an Detachment has six people and five boats on standby in Xinmin Township, Shimian County. According to the situation of the disaster, the Sichuan Fire Brigade ordered the earthquake rescue teams of Chengdu, Leshan and Meishan Detachments to rush to Tianquan County Brigade of Ya'an Detachment with 270 people, 65 vehicles and 9 dogs. Up to now, a total of 454 people, 99 vehicles, 12 dogs and 5 boats have been dispatched from five detachments including Ganzi, Ya'an, Chengdu, Leshan and Meishan.

The command center of the Sichuan Fire Brigade has contacted relevant personnel in 10 towns and townships, including Moxi Town, Yanzigou Town, Detuo Town, Dewei Town, Lengqi Town, Xinglong Town, Luqiao Town, and Wanggangping Township, Xinmin Township, Caoke Township, Shimian County, Ya'an, but has not received reports of casualties and house collapse.

At present, the road to the epicenter of the earthquake is unblocked, the communication and power supply of the epicenter and surrounding towns are normal, and no large-scale collapse and collapse have been found temporarily. There are rubble falling on the road to the epicenter, blocking traffic.

At 4:08, the first echelon of the Sichuan Forest Fire Brigade mobilized to the earthquake area of Luding County. Subsequently, the second and third echelons quickly gathered and rushed to the direction of the Luding earthquake.

After the earthquake, the Sichuan Armed Police Corps launched the emergency response mechanism at the first time, held a meeting to study and judge the disaster situation and deploy the tasks. The multiple rescue forces of the Garze Detachment, Ya'an Detachment, the Second Mobile Detachment and the Sichuan Armed Police Corps Hospital of the Armed Police Corps have gathered in multiple directions to prepare for the emergency.

Scientists around the world have tried to spin sturdy strands in the lab using silkworm cocoons as a starting point. The first step is to strip off the silk’s gummy outer coating. Scientists can do this by boiling the fibers in a chemical bath, but that can be like taking a hatchet to silk proteins. If the proteins get too damaged, it’s hard for scientists to respin them into high-quality strands, says Chris Holland, a materials scientist at the University of Sheffield in England who was not involved in the study.

Lin’s team tried gentler approaches, one of which used lower temperatures and a papaya enzyme, to help dissolve the silk’s coating. That mild-mannered method seemed to work. “They don’t have little itty-bitty pieces of silk protein,” Lewis says. “That’s huge because the bigger the proteins that remain, the stronger the fibers are going to be.”
After some processing steps, the researchers forced the resulting silk sludge through a tiny tube, like squeezing out toothpaste. Then, they bathed the extruded silk in a solution containing zinc and iron ions, eventually stretching the strands like taffy to make long, skinny fibers. The metal dip could be why some of the strands were so strong — Lin’s team detected zinc ions in the finished fibers. But Holland and Lewis aren’t so sure.

Comprehensive CCTV News China Earthquake Networks Center, Sichuan Seismological Bureau