Jinlian Hu, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Written by Kerianne Dobosz
Spider silk is a shape memory fiber found in nature that super contracts in the presence of water. Other stimuli include electrical, magnetic, light, and oxidation. Human-made fibers have also been produced that are tuned by manipulating the switches and net points through polymer chemistry, mimicking the structure of spider silk. The fibers can be used to make high pressure, comfort, and fashion garments. High pressure garments made of memory fibers are beneficial since one fabric can contract to the shape of the leg precisely, for example. They can apply a pressure gradient of tunable selectivity, massage the tissue, and easily be taken on and off. The cost can be low since knitting the shapes is easy. These fibers can be used to treat chronic venous disorders of tissue swelling and be worn by ICU patients and air travelers since a single product fits many sizes.