Spider silks possess a range of qualities that are rarely found simultaneously in one material. Toughness, extensibility and strength are only a few of the desirable traits that make spider silk of such interest. Silk is biodegradable and, unlike synthetic high-performance fibres, extremely lightweight. It's no surprise that there's been an enormous effort to replicate or learn from them.
A further advantage lies in its processing conditions and requirements. Producing Kevlar and other such synthetics comes at a high monetary and environmental cost. In comparison, spiders spin recyclable fibres on demand and under ambient conditions using water as a solvent. This process is all at the energetic cost of an insect dinner.
Projects are available in characterising silk properties, specifically the relationship between the structure and mechanical properties of the material. You may also explore and reproduce the process that creates these phenomenal materials.
This work will advance our understanding of spider silk mechanics and provide a path to reproducing the production and performance of the material. Some projects can lead to translational outcomes with health impacts.
Skills and experience
We encourage you to apply if you have a background in physics, materials, mechanical or electrical engineering.
Contact the supervisor for more information.