A twist in the tale – Spider silk



If you have tried to suspend a piece of article on rope then you will realize that
its hard to make it stationary without rotating about the center .

This is due to the elastic
nature of the rope(torsion), where upon deformation the rope would like to return
back to its initial state.


Now with most fibers you will witness the same torsional damped oscillations about the original position.

But if you spend time observing a spider, you will see that a spider does not seem to be facing this problem. It seems to be relatively stable when hanging on its thread. 

How is it doing that ?


Well, in a recent paper researchers explored this and found out that the spider was able to accomplish this by undergoing a plastic deformation that dissipates the applied energy in the thread.

It is speculated that the energy is lost due to friction between the fibers of the silk (which are linked by hydrogen bonds),

This drastically dampens the rotational motion of the spider making it ready to face its prey heads on.

Have a great day!

** You can read the paper here.


For those who don’t have access to AIP, the paper is available on researchgate.