Scientists make bulletproof skin
London: It may not be far away when human skin could resist a speeding bullet.
An artist named Jalila Essaidi has designed a new futuristic tissue, which reinforces human skin cells with spider silk, and can stop a whizzing projectile without being pierced.
Although its threads may look fragile, a spider-silk weave is four times stronger than Kevlar, the material used in bulletproof vests.
The bioengineered skin can stop a bullet fired at half speed, New Scientist reported.
But its resistance has its limits: when shot at a full speed of 329 m/s, the bullet pierces the material and travels through it.
An international team worked together to create the new material.
First, transgenic goats and silkworms equipped to produce spider-silk proteins spun out the raw material in the synthetic biology lab at Utah State University.
The cocoons were then shipped to South Korea, where they were reeled into thread, before being woven into fabric in Germany.
The modified silk was then wedged between bioengineered skin cells developed by biochemist Abdoelwaheb El Ghalbzouri at the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands. After five weeks of incubation, the hybrid skin was ready for target practice.
Apart from exploring the material artistically, Essaidi is also looking into practical uses, such as skin transplants.
Other teams have already developed spider silk for high-tech applications, which range from artificial corneas to brain implants.