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

Fed graphene, silkworms can make tougher, conductive threads
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

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

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

How we test

Hugh Langley


Now at Business Insider, Hugh originally joined Wareable from TechRadar where he’d been writing news, features, reviews and just about everything else you can think of for three years.

Hugh is now a correspondent at Business Insider.

Prior to Wareable, Hugh freelanced while studying, writing about bad indie bands and slightly better movies. He found his way into tech journalism at the beginning of the wearables boom, when everyone was talking about Google Glass and the Oculus Rift was merely a Kickstarter campaign - and has been fascinated ever since.

He’s particularly interested in VR and any fitness tech that will help him (eventually) get back into shape. Hugh has also written for T3, Wired, Total Film, Little White Lies and China Daily.

Related stories