Air Force scientists are working with colleagues at Purdue University to determine the practicality of using artificial silk to fabricate items such as body armor and parachutes.
As of now, the material is considerably more expensive to produce than Kevlar. However, the research teams believe its characteristics could justify the high price tag. When woven into fabrics, artificial silk radiates considerably more heat than it absorbs – as much as 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
“The ultra-strong fibers outperform the mechanical characteristics of many synthetic materials, as well as steel,” said Augustine Urbas of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s functional materials division.
Parachutes made from artificial silk can carry much heavier payloads, because of its inherent strength. In time, tents used at forward operating bases could be made of the material as well.