Praise the silkworms - they're key to the future of wearable tech

Fed graphene, silkworms can make tougher, conductive threads
Silkworms hold the key to wearables' future

Oh graphene, is there anything you can't do? The wonderful carbon-based material, which has potential to make everything from long-lasting batteries to zeppelins, may also hold the key to the future of wearable tech.

At Beijing's Tsinghua University a team of scientists have created a tougher form of silk that's able to conduct electricity, thanks to graphene. Researchers fed silkworms leaves covered in carbon nanotubes or graphene, and as a result the worms produced threads that were twice as strong.

The method meant scientists could avoid using chemicals to blend the graphene with the silk. However they still need to figure out the optimum amount of carbon to feed the worms to get the best results, and work out how the worms manage to get the nanomaterials into their silk.

Essential reading:Why graphene is so important for wearables

A silk that's both tougher and conductive could be used for a range of wearable technologies, such as smart clothing and implants. Embedding graphene into existing materials would also mean more eco-friendly technologies.

More research needs to be done, but materials scientist Yaopeng Zhang of Donghua University told Scientific American this would be an "easy way to produce high-strength silk fibers on a large scale."

Via Wired


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