The researchers found that the web has the unusual properties of strong compression and twisting at high humidity, which allows it to be used to create artificial muscles, various robotic drives and mechanisms.
It has long been known that the web is one of the most durable materials, but recently scientists from the Massachusetts Technological Institute have observed other unusual properties. The discovery was committed by chance, when the team studied the influence of moisture on the secret of the spider gland. After increasing the humidity up to 70% in the chamber with a controlled medium, the cargo suspended on the threads began to rotate, and the web was strongly compressed.
After conducting a number of laboratory experiments and having studied molecular models, the researchers determined that the effect occurs due to the presence in the web of amino acids called proline. It was found that when interacting with water, protein fiber hydrogen bonds are disrupted as a asymmetric manner, which causes its rotation, which always occurs in only one direction.
Despite the discovery, scientists did not establish the exact biological value of this web for spider. They assume that such a mechanism can help make sure the network tension during morning dew, protects it from damage or increases sensitivity to vibrations.
The unique properties of the discovered built-in symmetry of rotation allows you to use this feature to create a new class of synthetic polymers. According to researchers, strong compression in response to changing external factors can be used in various devices: from flexible robotics and sensors to smart textiles and generators of environmentally friendly energy.
Recently, scientists also found that under certain conditions, ordinary drops of clean water on a transparent surface