One of Xinwei Wang's golden silk orbweaver spiders
Xinwei Wang (left), with team members Guoqing Liu and Xiaopeng Huang, showing some of the equipment they used to measure the silk's thermal conductivity
Over the years, we’ve seen Spiderman use his webbing to catch villains, swing between buildings, and even parachute from great heights. In all that time, however, the opportunity never came up for him to use it to conduct heat. As it turns out, it would have been perfect for the job. Although materials from living things generally don’t conduct heat well, a team of scientists from Iowa State University have discovered that spider silk does so 800 times better than any other organic material ever tested. Because the silk is also very strong and stretchable, it could have a number of applications in human technology.
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