A Bay Area startup is giving spiders and silkworms a run for their money. Bolt Threads, which announced a new $40 million round funding on Thursday, has developed a synthetic, “programmable” alternative to larval- or arachnid-produced silk. Engineered using proteins derived from yeast, the fibers can be manipulated to deliver any combination of softness, strength, and durability. They’re even machine-washable. “Think of the strength a delicate, pliable spiderweb must have to stop insects hurtling through the air,” Jim Kim and Tanguy Chau, members of the venture-capital group Formation 8, explained in a post on Wednesday. “Apply those properties to textiles, and you get a fabric with 100 times the strength of reinforced steel but that is as soft and flexible as the most comfortable fabrics.”
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