Spider Silk Conducts Heat Better Than Other Organic Materials

This is been a big week for spider silk from the golden silk orbweaver spider. Earlier in the week, we talked about a researcher that had used the spider silk to create a set of violin strings. Now another Japanese researcher has discovered that this spider silk conducts heat 800 times better than any other organic material ever tested.

The researcher who tested the spider silk is associate professor of mechanical engineering Xinwei Wang. He used eight captive golden silk orbweaver spiders and gather the silk they spun inside the cages to test thermal conductivity of the fibers. These fibers conducted heat so well that they're actually better than most materials commonly used for heat conduction including silicone, aluminum, and pure iron.

Only two materials tested conducted heat better than the spider silk, those were silver and diamond. The spider silk is able to conduct heat at a rate of 416 W per meter Kelvin. Copper conducts heat at 401 W per meter Kelvin. Interestingly, this specific golden orbweaver spider silk conducts heat 1000 times better than silkworm silk. When the silk is stretched, heat conductivity also goes up. The researchers stretched the silk to 20% of its limit and noted that he conductivity went up by 20%. Typical materials used for heat conduction lose thermal conductivity as they stretch.

[via GizMag]