Spider Silk-Based Advanced Performance Fiber for Improved Personnel Ballistic Protection Systems


  1. Bolduc, M.
  2. Lazaris, A.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Valcartier, Valcartier QUE (CAN);Nexia Biotechnologies Inc, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue QUE (CAN)
This memorandum describes an effort aimed at investigating a novel material, spider dragline silk, that could be used to protect the Canadian Forces' soldiers against advanced munitions. Studies of its mechanical properties have shown that it combines extraordinary strength and toughness, all in a flexible lightweight fiber that could offer better ballistic protection than that of aramid and Ultra High Molecular Weight PolyEthylene (UHMWPE) fibers. The production of a soluble form of recombinant spider silk from mammalian cells and the subsequent spinning into a fiber is a major breakthrough. Although the principle of generating fibers from recombinant spider silk has been demonstrated, the mechanical properties of the fibers need to be improved to produce high-performance fibers. Research needs to be performed to understand the links between the recominant spider gene, the resulting proteins, their mixture, and spinning to produce a high-performance bio-filament that can be then be mechanically characterised. Protein production, spin dope, fiber spinning and tensile testing will be studied by Nexis Biotechnologies Inc. whereas the Defence R & D Canada Valcartier will develop both a tensile split Hopkinson bar and a ballistic testing apparatus to fully characterise the filament yarn under high strain rates. The combination of Nexia Biotechnologies Inc. and DRDC expertise is unique and essential in the development and material characterisation of next generation fibers. This w

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UHMWPE (Ultra High Molecular Weight PolyEthylene);Spider silk;Fiber Development;Biotechnologies;Transgenic;High Strain Rates;Hopkinson
Report Number
DRDC-VALCARTIER-TM-2002-222 — Technical Memorandum
Date of publication
11 Dec 2002
Number of Pages

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