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Tuesday, 6th March 2012
In General Japan News,

Scientist in Japan weaves violin strings from spider webs

A scientist in Japan has woven spider silk into violin strings which he says can make a fantastic sound in the hands of the right violin player.

Shigeyoshi Osaki is professor of polymer chemistry at Nara Medical University and he has managed to create an incredibly strong yet flexible string by weaving thousands of strands of spider silk, AFP reported.

The scientist has spent the past 35 years carrying out research with spider silk and his love of the violin encouraged him to undertake the research after earlier projects examined using the material to create bullet-proof vests and surgical sutures.

Enough to make an arachnophobiac's skin crawl, Professor Osaki employed 300 female Nephila maculate spiders to produce the silk for his research, with some very interesting results.

"During the assembly of normal threads there are many spaces between individual fibres," he told the news agency.

"What we achieved left no space among the filaments. It made the strings stronger. This can have all sorts of applications in our day-to-day lives."

In the past, the scientist has created a rope woven from spider silk which he claimed could be used to hang a 600kg weight.

However, while the discovery of the strength and resilience of spider's silk is nothing groundbreaking, using it for violin strings has never been done before.

"Professional violinists have said they can tell the difference," Professor Osaki said, with many praising the sound quality afforded by the unique strings for its "soft and profound timbre".

Professor Osaki said that what he really wanted to do was create something using spider silk that would be "socially accepted" by normal people rather than just scientifically significant.

The research is due to be published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Violin strings are traditionally made from gut, nylon or other synthetic fibres, while the strings of a violin bow are traditionally made from horse hair.

Written by Mark Smith

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