Water-driven actuation of Ornithoctonus huwena spider silk fibers

Shuyuan Lin, Jia Zhu, Xinming Li, Yang Guo, Yaopeng Fang, Huanyu Cheng, Hongwei Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Spider silk possesses remarkable mechanical properties and can lift weight effectively. Certain kinds of spider silk have unique response to liquid, especially water, because of their hydrophilic proteins, β-sheet characters, and surface structure. The Ornithoctonus huwena (O. huwena) spider is a unique species because it can be bred artificially and it spins silk whose diameter is in nanometer scale. In this work, we report the “shrink-stretch” behavior of the O. huwena spider silk fibers and show how they can be actuated by water to lift weight over long distance, at a fast speed, and with high efficiency. We further rationalize this behavior by analyzing the mechanical energy of the system. The lifting process is energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, allowing applications in actuators, biomimetic muscles, or hoisting devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number053103
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 30 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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