Scientists in the United States said on Tuesday they had coated spider silk with carbon nanotubes, creating a fibre that is not only super-strong but also conducts electricity.
The new thread is three times stronger than untreated spider silk, which weight-for-weight is already one of the strongest substances in Nature, they reported.
The first mooted application is in nano-scale medical devices.
In tests, the prototype has been used as heartbeat monitor and as a piston, able to raise a relatively huge 35 milligrammes using electrical current and humidity to make the thread contract like a muscle.
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, is led by Eden Steven of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory n Tallahassee, Florida.