Sticky and stretchy

Summaries of newsworthy papers include: Large Rashba spin splitting of a metallic surfacestate band on a semiconductor surface; Intestinal stem cells lacking the Math1 tumour suppressor are refractory to Notch inhibitors


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Sticky and stretchy

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[1] Sticky and stretchy
DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS1019

Droplets that give spider silk its ‘sticky’ property have been found to adhere with forces 100 times stronger than previously thought reports a paper in Nature Communications this week.

Spider silk adhesion is reliant on sticky droplets composed of glycoproteins surrounded by an aqueous coat. Ali Dhinojwala and co-workers show that these droplets behave as viscoelastic solids that enable large forces, two orders of magnitude larger than the capillary forces previously thought to be responsible for the adhesion. This happens thanks to the mechanical properties of their protein c core, as the authors show by performing nanomechanical pulling experiments on single droplets.

The viscoelastic properties of the droplets also allow the silk response to be dependent on the pulling rate: at slow pulling rate the droplets behave like rubber bands, thereby giving the spider time to subdue the trapped prey, whereas at high pulling rate the viscous effects increase the adhesive forces drastically, therefore allowing the capture of fast flying insects.

Author contact:
Ali Dhinojwala (The University of Akron, OH, USA)
Tel: +1 330 972 6246
E-mail: [email protected]

Papers to go live at the same time and with the same embargo…

[2] Large Rashba spin splitting of a metallic surfacestate band on a semiconductor surface
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1016

[3] Intestinal stem cells lacking the Math1 tumour suppressor are refractory to Notch inhibitors
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1017

[4] Fluidic supramolecular nano- and microfibres as molecular rails for regulated movement of nanosubstances
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1018


The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. For example, London: 4 - this means that on paper number four, there will be at least one author affiliated to an institute or company in London. The listing may be for an author's main affiliation, or for a place where they are working temporarily. Please see the PDF of the paper for full details.

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Higashi-Hiroshima: 2
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Utrecht: 3

Akron: 1


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Published: 18 May 2010

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