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The recent work by this team of researchers could soon inspire the production of other highly performing fibrous materials based on nanoconfined structures and similar spinning processes. In addition, the spider silk-inspired hydrogel microfibers they created could soon be applied and evaluated in real-world settings, for instance as the actuating fibers of prosthetic limbs or wearable devices.

“We have shown that hydrogel fibers with a nanoconfined structure can display very good properties, but the toughness of the fibers are not yet comparable to that of real spider silk,” Sun added. “In the future, we will try to introduce even stronger nanocrystals as nanoconfinement for further improving the mechanical properties of hydrogel fibers.”

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