Nanoengineer engineers at Tsinghua University fed silkworms carbon nanotubes or graphene, both of which are approximately 100 times stronger than steel. The silkworms then spun reinforced silk that, according to Chemical & Engineering News, "twice as tough (as regular silk) and can withstand at least 50% higher stress before breaking."
The modified silks conduct electricity, unlike regular silk. Raman spectroscopy and electron microscopy imaging showed that the carbon-enhanced silk fibers had a more ordered crystal structure due to the incorporated nano materials.
Some questions remain. One is exactly how the silkworms incorporate the nanomaterials in their silk. Another is what percentage of the nanomaterials eaten by the worms make it into the silk instead of being excreted or otherwise metabolized.
"Feeding Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes or Graphene to Silkworms for Reinforced Silk Fibers" (Nano Letters)
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