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Carbon nanotubes on a spider silk scaffold

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Eden StevenWasan R. SalehVictor LebedevSteve F. A. AcquahVladimir LaukhinRufina G. Alamo & James S. Brooks

Nature Communications 4,
Article number:2435

Understanding the compatibility between spider silk and conducting materials is essential to advance the use of spider silk in electronic applications. Spider silk is tough, but becomes soft when exposed to water. Here we report a strong affinity of amine-functionalised multi-walled carbonnanotubes for spider silk, with coating assisted by a water and mechanical shear method. The nanotubes adhere uniformly and bond to the silk fibre surface to produce tough, custom-shaped, flexible and electrically conducting fibres after drying and contraction. The conductivity of coated silk fibres is reversibly sensitive to strain and humidity, leading to proof-of-concept sensor and actuator demonstrations.

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