If your spidey sense has been tingling recently, this awesome arachnid discovery may be the cause. Scientists at the University of Trento, Italy, had the brilliant idea of combining spider silk with graphene to produce spider webs six times stronger than normal. The first known 2D crystal and composed of carbon sheets only one atom thick, graphene is an extremely strong artificial substance. Until this past year when it was dethroned by the tiny teeth of the limpet, spider silk reigned supreme as the strongest biological material. Not content to play second fiddle to a sea snail, the arachnids have joined forces with human bio-engineers to build a new race of super spiders!

spider, shadow, spider shadow

Graphene is 200 times stronger than steel, highly conductive, and can even be used to extract hydrogen, a promising renewable energy source, from thin air. Graphene has been used to create super efficient LED light bulbs and is being incorporated into emerging 3D printer technology as a printing material. Graphene is even being used to create flexible and highly pleasurable condoms, a project funded by the Gates Foundation. Though application of graphene are still in its early stages, the substance may prove revolutionary.  Granting superpowers to spiders is rightfully high on the list for early graphene applications. In a surprisingly simple process, the research team sprayed the spiders with a graphene-carbon nanotube-water solution that infused some of the spiders with enhanced web making abilities. It is unclear how this process works, though the team suspects that the spiders absorb the solution and then internally mix it with their silk.

Related: Graphene-based solar cells could yield 60% efficiency

However, this unrefined process has risks. Several spiders reacted negatively to the solution and died before realizing their great power and great responsibility. The team envisions this discovery could be applied to the construction of giant nets to be used to catch falling airplanes, as superheroes do. They also plan to experiment with silkworms to learn if they too can help humans build bionic super substances.

And now, for your listening pleasure: the Ramones.

Via BoingBoing

Images via Shutterstock and alvaroreguly