Soldiers of the future may be wearing clothes that are stitched out of entirely bulletproof material made from spider silk, a new research suggests.
Researchers have genetically engineered silkworms to produce spider silk, and have used the material to create gloves that will soon undergo strength testing and provide more answers.
“Spider silk in nature has truly unique properties. If you think about a spider’s web, it’s designed by nature to intercept an airborne missile — a fly or another flying insect,” Kim Thompson, CEO of Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, based in Lansing, United States of America, said.
The silk naturally elongates and absorbs the energy of the captured prey, Thompson added.
“If you do the mathematical calculations — the weight of the fly, its speed, and the size of the individual fibre you capture it in — the strength-to-weight ratio is off the scale,” Thompson continued.
In the future, such a type of silk could have numerous applications.
For soldiers in particular, spider silk could provide a new type of protection beyond than the traditional, solid Kevlar vest, ‘Live Science’ reported.
Thompson has been working on this idea for about 10 years, since he watched other companies try, and fail, to make silk a viable material for armour.
If one silkworm could be genetically engineered to make spider silk, its descendants could carry on that trait forever, he said.
Unlike spiders, silkworms are able to assemble silk proteins that are already being used for mass production of silk fibre for clothing.