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20th June 2018, Logan, UT

Spider silk lab awarded US Navy grant

The USU Synthetic Spider Silk Lab will also apply silk manufacturing technology to enable the commercial-scale production of other biomaterials.Utah State University’s USTAR initiative-funded Synthetic Spider Silk Lab has received a US$ 420,000 grant from the US Navy Division of Unconventional Warfare to design and develop synthetic spider silk material that could be used to fight enemy targets during military combat.

“Envisioning a device the US Navy is developing with Utah State University synthetic spider silk conjures images you'd expect in a James Bond thriller. Think strong, stretchy fibres wrapping relentlessly around a boat propeller and effectively foiling nefarious efforts by smugglers, pirates or terrorists,” says the University.

The official name for such devices is nonlethal Maritime Vessel Stopping Occlusion Technologies. The USU Synthetic Spider Silk Lab will also apply silk manufacturing technology to enable the commercial-scale production of other biomaterials.

“This project has three major aims that will benefit the Navy and advance our research,” said Randy Lewis, professor in USU's Department of Biology and lab director. “This is a great opportunity for USU, because this project will allow us to continue to develop our knowledge of synthetic silk production and applications.”

The grant is for one year, with opportunities for follow-up funding. The scientist, who joined USU in 2011, adds he's grateful to USTAR – the state-funded Utah Science and Technology and Research economic development initiative – for providing funding for his research.

www.usu.edu

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