Xinwei Wang and his research team at Iowa State University found that spider silks – particularly the draglines that anchor webs in place – conduct heat better than most materials, including silicon, aluminum and pure iron. Spider silk also conducts heat 1,000 times better than woven silkworm silk and 800 times better than other organic tissues.
Spider silk conducts heat at the rate of 416 watts per meter Kelvin.
Stretching spider silk to its 20 percent limit also increases conductivity by 20 percent. Most materials lose thermal conductivity when they’re stretched.
The discovery could lead to spider silk helping to create flexible, heat-dissipating parts for electronics, better clothes for hot weather, bandages that don’t trap heat and many other everyday applications.