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article imageResearcher makes violin strings out of spider silk

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By Lynn Curwin     Mar 7, 2012 in Arts
A researcher at a Japanese university has created violin strings from spider silk, and many people are impressed by the sounds.
Shigeyoshi Osaki, a professor of polymer chemistry at Nara Medical University, has been studying spider silk for about 35 years.
Discovery News reported that he used the silk from 300 female Nephila maculata spiders, known as golden orb weavers. The spiders, which are native to Asia, have bodies about an inch long and legs stretching up to seven inches.
Bundles were made of 3,000 to 5,000 stands twisted together. Three bundles were then twisted in the opposite direction to create a string.
“I failed many times in making strings,” ABC News quoted Osaki as saying. “Then, I decided to go to school for the lesson of the violin. I thought it was necessary to know the use of the violin strings. If I could understand a method for using strings as a result of playing the violin, I thought that I might prepare mechanically strong strings.”
The silk strings were not as strong as catgut but were stronger than the aluminium-coated nylon-core ones. Osaki believes their strength might be due to the fact that the strands were compressed so that there were no openings among the filaments.
"Several professional violinists reported that spider strings... generated a preferable timbre, being able to create a new music," the BBC reported that he wrote.
"The violin strings are a novel practical use for spider silk as a kind of high value-added product, and offer a distinctive type of timbre for both violin players and music lovers worldwide."
According to Discovery News, spider silk has already been used to create cloth, body armour and bulletproof "skin".
Tokyo Times reported that Osaki has also suggested spider silk could be used for making medical sutures.
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