The European Physical Journal E

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 199–206

Predicting the mechanical properties of spider silk as a model nanostructured polymer

Regular Articles

DOI: 10.1140/epje/e2005-00021-2

Cite this article as:
Porter, D., Vollrath, F. & Shao, Z. Eur. Phys. J. E (2005) 16: 199. doi:10.1140/epje/e2005-00021-2


Spider silk is attractive because it is strong and tough. Moreover, an enormous range of mechanical properties can be achieved with only small changes in chemical structure. Our research shows that the full range of thermo-mechanical properties of silk fibres can be predicted from mean field theory for polymers in terms of chemical composition and the degree of order in the polymer structure. Thus, we can demonstrate an inherent simplicity at a macromolecular level in the design principles of natural materials. This surprising observation allows in depth comparison of natural with man-made materials.

Copyright information

© EDP Sciences/Società Italiana di Fisica/Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of Macromolecular Science and Key Laboratory of Molecular Engineering of Polymers of Ministry of Education, Fudan UniversityShanghaiP.R. China