Times Staff and Wire Reports

Spider silk is already tougher and lighter than steel, and now scientists have made it three times stronger by adding small amounts of metal.

The technique may be useful for manufacturing super-tough textiles and high-tech medical materials, including artificial bones and tendons.

The finding, by Seung-Mo Lee of the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Halle, Germany, and colleagues, was published in the journal Science. The idea was inspired by studies showing traces of metals in the toughest parts of insect body parts, such as the jaws of leaf-cutter ants and locusts.