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Researchers Create Synthetic Duplicates Of Spiders' Super-Sticky, Silk "Attachment Discs"

Update Date: May 17, 2014 10:07 AM EDT
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Researchers have reportedly created synthetic duplicates of super-sticky, silk "attachment discs" that spiders use to attach their webs to surfaces. 

Researchers said the discs are created when spiders pin down an underlying thread of silk with additional threads i.e. stitches and staples. They added that the "staple-pin" geometry of the attachment disc creates a strong attachment force using little material. 

Researchers used electrospinning - process by which an electrical charge is used to draw very find fibers from a liquid - to duplicate the efficient staple-pin design.  

"This adhesive architecture holds promise for potential applications in the area of adhesion science, particularly in the field of biomedicine where the cost of the materials is a significant constraint," the authors wrote in their paper. 

According to researchers, the design could potentially be used in addition to medical applications, to create commercial adhesives stronger than conventional glue and tape. 

"Instead of using big globs of glue, for example, we can use this unique and efficient design of threads pinning down a fiber," said Ali Dhinojwala, UA's H.A. Morton professor of polymer science and lead researcher on the project, in the press release. "The inspiration was right in front of us, in nature."

"You can learn a lot of science from nature," added Dharamdeep Jain, a graduate student and co-author of the paper.

The research has been published online in Journal of Polymer Physics. 

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