Polymer Fibers: Silk and Synthetic Polymers: Reconciling 100 Degrees of Separation (Adv. Mater. 1/2012)



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The image shows a sketch of a Chinese silkworm spinning a silk fiber. Using shear-induced polarization light imaging, Oleksandr O. Mykhaylyk and co-workers at Sheffield and Oxford Universities demonstrate on page 105 that the work required to produce natural silk fibers is at least ten times less than that required for a typical synthetic polymer. They also (re)define the concept of polymer crys-tallization and class silks as a new nanocomposite state of biological matter: “aquamelts”.