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Tuesday, 16 October 2012 10:25

Spin your own chips

Written by Nick Farrell



Spiders take on Intel


French boffins are working out ways to recruit spiders and some insects to build computer chips using silk.

Physicist Nolwenn Huby of the Institut de Physique de Rennes in France said that spider silk is deal for use in electronic devices. Light can travel through a silk strand as easily as it does through a fibre optic cable. She said that her team were able to transmit laser light down a short strand of the silk on an integrated circuit chip. It worked exactly like glass fibre optic cables but it had four orders of magnitude more loss than the glass.

Huby said that by giving the silk a coating it would have better transmission capabilities. She said that the spider silk could open the door to medical applications, such as silk fibers carrying light to places in the body for internal imaging. Because spider silk is incredibly thin — roughly five microns in diameter or 10 times thinner than a human hair – surgeons could perform diagnostic exams using very small openings in the body.

Spider silk is harmless, so you can implant it and the body has no reaction to them.  Although some bodies have a bad reaction to spiders and require other bodies to pick them up in tissues and fling them outside.

Nick Farrell

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