Mechanical and structural properties of major ampullate silk from spiders fed carbon nanomaterials

Sean P. Kelly, Kun Ping Huang, Chen Pan Liao, Riza Ariyani Nur Khasanah, Forest Shih Sen Chien, Jwu Sheng Hu, Chung Lin Wu, I. Min Tso*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The dragline silk of spiders is of particular interest to science due to its unique properties that make it an exceptional biomaterial that has both high tensile strength and elasticity. To improve these natural fibers, researchers have begun to try infusing metals and carbon nanomaterials to improve mechanical properties of spider silk. The objective of this study was to incorporate carbon nanomaterials into the silk of an orb-weaving spider, Nephila pilipes, by feeding them solutions containing graphene and carbon nanotubes. Spiders were collected from the field and in the lab were fed solutions by pipette containing either graphene sheets or nanotubes. Major ampullate silk was collected and a tensile tester was used to determine mechanical properties for pre- and post-treatment samples. Raman spectroscopy was then used to test for the presence of nanomaterials in silk samples. There was no apparent incorporation of carbon nanomaterials in the silk fibers that could be detected with Raman spectroscopy and there were no significant improvements in mechanical properties. This study represents an example for the importance of attempting to replicate previously published research. Researchers should be encouraged to continue to do these types of investigations in order to build a strong consensus and solid foundation for how to go forward with these new methods for creating novel biomaterials.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0241829
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11 November
StatePublished - Nov 2020


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