On the origin of supercontraction in spider silk

Spider silk is a protein material that exhibits extraordinary and nontrivial properties such as the ability to soften and decrease its length by up to ∼60% upon exposure to high humidity. This counter-intuitive process is commonly called supercontraction and is the result of a transition from a highly oriented glassy phase to a disoriented rubbery phase. Our new work presents a model that explains the origins of this phenomena. The insights from this work motivate the development of novel biomimetic materials.
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Water-induced softening in biopolymer networks

Biopolymer networks found in arthropods can experience a significant softening upon swelling! In this work, we model the water-induced softening of resilin, which is a protein network found in arthropods. Our work suggests that the softening behavior in gels can be controlled by an appropriate design of the network microstructure.
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Spontaneous bifurcations in geometrically incompatible tubes

Geometric and material incompatibilities are ubiquitous in natural structures. In this work we show that geometric incompatibilities can be used to enhance the performance of soft tubular systems.
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The toothpick challenge

Mechanics is fun! Can you figure out how a single toothpick can carry the weight of a water bottle?
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Inflation / extension induced twist

How do we induce twist in tubes without applying a torque? In nature, such a deformation mode is enabled by material anisotropy. In our new work, we show that bi-layer tubes with twist incompatible layers can twist upon inflation and extension. Interestingly, the direction of twist can spontaneously reverse as the load increases, as shown in this video! Stay tuned for our upcoming paper.
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News & updates

Congratulations to Michal – our paper “on the origin of supercontraction in spider silk” has been accepted for publication in Biomacromolecules!

January 12, 2021 Read more

Launching our new website!

December 7, 2020
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