Army is looking out to improvise the looks and strength of its soldiers. To accomplish this task, recently, it awarded a contract of $100, 000 to Kraig Biocraft that will look into inclusion of genetically engineered spider silk in their body armour. The company plans to test its futuristic spider silk to test if it stands well against extreme temperatures and rough conditions. As Job Rice, the Chief Operating Officer of the company, likes to explain, “We are going to provide them a series of different thread counts, thickness, construction techniques that they will test against standard material performance specifications.” If everything goes as per expectations and the material gives performance as promised, the value of this deal will extend up to $1 million.
It will be one of the coolest body armours that our army has ever worn. However, it is noteworthy that spider aka dragon silk suits might not be as robust as we all are looking forward to, But it will be stronger and lighter than Kevlar under all conditions. Kevlar only works to protect the torso of its wearer, but inclusion of spider silk will extend that protection to other body parts as well. It will be way more flexible and would allow a wider range of motion to the soldier. A full-body protection suit will now be possible for all soldiers.
As per scientists, spider silk is a miraculous stuff and is five times sturdier than steel of same dimensions. It is also waterproof and based on its protein threads, its strings can stretch by 40 per cent without breaking. This kind of stuff has inspired formation of liquid wires as well that will be used in development of replacement hearts. The only problem with this kind of thread is that it is hard to produce. People are happy to raise silkworms but nobody wishes to own a spider farm. Spiders can not only be creepy but are cannibalistic in nature. It wouldn’t be easy to work with these for any normal person. Some researchers are trying to face this problem by spinning restricted amount of artificial silk in simulated environments.
The research team working in Kraig went a step ahead to insert the spider’s DNA in silkworms which means silkworms can now generate spider like threads without any issues. Although, it will be very interesting to know if silkworms turn cannibalistic and bit people?