Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for Materials Science and Engineering have discovered the key to silk's pound-for-pound toughness, which exceeds that of steel, according to the journal Nature Materials and reported today in an article on Nanowork News, one of the Blog's favourite morning reads.
The scientists found that an unusual arrangement of hydrogen bonds play an important role in defining the strength of silk.
"Hydrogen bonds, which are among the weakest types of chemical bonds, gain strength when confined to spaces in the order of a few nanometers in size. Once in close proximity, the hydrogen bonds work together and become extremely strong."
(photo: Nanowork News)