Silk, that luxurious material spun by insects and arachnids, is one of the most important natural fibers on Earth due to its high tensile strength, smooth texture, and insulating properties.
Now, scientists have discovered another silk superpower—the ability to withstand the cold temperatures of outer space.
This property, called cryogenic toughness, is rare in complex polymer materials like silk. When these materials are exposed to frigid temperatures approaching -200°C (-328°F), they typically become cracked and brittle. But some silks actually became stronger and more stretchable in the cold, according to a study published on Thursday in the journal Materials Chemistry Frontiers.
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