Fibers contract and relax in response to humidity

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Spider silk fibers are renowned for their strength and flexibility. Todd Blackledge and fellow researchers at the University of Akron have been studying dragline silk and discovered that it helps maintain tension in spider webs under weight from rain and dew. The silk fibers undergo varying levels of contraction and relaxation, much like muscle fibers in the human body, depending on surrounding humidity levels. This feature of spider silk gives it potential as an "artifical muscle," which could be used in several micro-scale applications.  Recent innovations in the production of artificial spider silk (See Also: Microfluidic Silk Assembly Device) hold promise for creating small biomimetic fibers with the necessary characteristics for industrial use.

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