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Proceedings Paper

Functional design of spider's silk
Author(s): John Gosline; Paul Guerette; Christine Ortlepp
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Paper Abstract

The orb-web weaving spiders produce a broad range of high performance structural fibers (i.e. silks) with mechanical properties that are superbly matched to their function. Our interest in these materials stems both from an interest in the biology of the spiders and the design of their webs and also from a desire to discover principles of mechanical design of protein-based structural materials that can guide the development of novel bio-engineered materials. All spiders produce silks, but the orb-web weaving spiders are unique in their ability to produce seven different silks, each from distinct gland/spinneret complexes. Considering the wide diversity of spider species, there is likely to be an enormous range of material properties available in spider silk. However, at present, we only have information on two species of spiders, and only two of their seven silks have been studied in any detail. These are: (1) the silk produced by the major ampullate gland, which forms the safety-line or dragline of the spider and also is used to form the frame of its orb-web, and (2) the viscid silk produced by the flagelliform gland, which forms the glue-covered catching spiral of the web. In this paper we describe several aspects of the mechanical design of the dragline and viscid silks produced by the spider Araneus diadematus.

Paper Details

Date Published: 9 February 1996
PDF: 4 pages
Proc. SPIE 2716, Smart Structures and Materials 1996: Smart Materials Technologies and Biomimetics, (9 February 1996);
Show Author Affiliations
John Gosline, Univ. of British Columbia (Canada)
Paul Guerette, Univ. of British Columbia (Canada)
Christine Ortlepp, Univ. of British Columbia (Canada)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2716:
Smart Structures and Materials 1996: Smart Materials Technologies and Biomimetics
Andrew Crowson, Editor(s)

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