How the Orb spider web is stronger than steel?

Picture of a orb web spider.

Spider silk: Stronger than steel?

It is two to three times the strength of high-quality steel.

It is flexible enough to stretch 30 per cent before breaking.

Only “a thousandth of a millimeter in diameter” (“a hundredth the size of a human hair”).

What is it?

A wonder of modern technology?

No, it is the silk spun by the tiny brown spider named aranei diademati, commonly known as the orb web spider.

Scientists at the University of British Columbia studying the design of this natural product find that “generally, the stronger a substance gets, the more rigid it gets.”

Yet, “the unique arrangement of the molecules in a strand of [spider] silk . . . allows it to be both stretchable and strong at the same time.”

So effort is being made by scientists at the University of British Columbia to see if they can learn something from the chemistry of the lowly spider that will enable man to develop synthetic patterns that are similar.

Among the intriguing properties of this silk is the mystifying “ability of the protein chains to link rubbery and crystalline features."