Sébastien Neukirch
Institut Jean le Rond d'Alembert
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Université Pierre et Marie Curie
Paris, France

tel: +33 1 44 27 72 61
fax : +33 1 44 27 52 59
e-mail: sebastien.neukirch (-atat-) upmc.fr

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In-drop capillary spooling of spider capture thread inspires hybrid fibers with mixed solid–liquid mechanical properties

H. Elettro, S. Neukirch, F. Vollrath, and A. Antkowiak

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, vol. 113 (2016) 6143-6147

Abstract : The spiraling capture threads of spider orb webs are covered with thousands of tiny glue droplets whose primary function is to entrap insects. In this paper we demonstrate that the function of the drops goes beyond that of glueing preys for they also play a role in the mechanical properties of these fibres -- usually ascribed solely to the complex molecular architecture of the silk. Indeed each of the droplets can spool and pack the core silk filament, thus keeping the thread and the whole web under tension. We demonstrate that this effect is the result of the interplay between elasticity and capillarity by making a fully artificial drops-on-fibre compound as extensible as capture thread is.

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1602451113

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