Music

Spider silk violin catches customized sound

Luca Alessandrini with his prototype violin
Luca Alessandrini with his prototype violin
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Luca Alessandrini with his prototype violin
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Luca Alessandrini with his prototype violin
Running down the center of Luca Alessandrini's violin are three strands of the golden silk, embedded in the instrument's composite body
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Running down the center of Luca Alessandrini's violin are three strands of the golden silk, embedded in the instrument's composite body
The violin's composite body is also made from silk fibers, mixed with a binding agent
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The violin's composite body is also made from silk fibers, mixed with a binding agent
The acoustics of the violin can be finely altered by tweaking the manner in which the silk fibers are mixed with the binder
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The acoustics of the violin can be finely altered by tweaking the manner in which the silk fibers are mixed with the binder
Luca has patented the technology, established a startup company, and is now looking for industry partners to help develop it further
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Luca has patented the technology, established a startup company, and is now looking for industry partners to help develop it further

Spider silk may be known for being extremely strong, yet it's also elastic – that's how it's able to both hold struggling prey, and alert spiders to that prey by transmitting vibrations caused by those struggles. With these dual qualities in mind, a Design Engineering postgrad from Imperial College London has created a one-of-a-kind violin … using silk spun by an Australian Golden Orb Spider.

Running down the center of Luca Alessandrini's violin are three strands of the golden silk, embedded in the instrument's composite body. That body is also made from silk fibers, mixed with a binding agent.

When notes are played on the strings, the vibrations resonate through the three main strands and into the hollow body, creating sound. Known as propagation velocity, this principle is likewise used in the design of wood and carbon fiber violins.

The violin's composite body is also made from silk fibers, mixed with a binding agent
The violin's composite body is also made from silk fibers, mixed with a binding agent

In the case of Alessandrini's composite material, however, the acoustics can be finely altered by tweaking the manner in which the silk fibers are mixed with the binder. This could not only allow different violins to have different predetermined tones, but it means the material could also find use in high-end audio products such as speakers and headphones.

Luca has patented the technology, established a startup company, and is now looking for industry partners to help develop it further. He is hoping to have his spider silk violins in the marketplace by sometime next year.

Source: Imperial College London

1 comment
Tacky-on
I wonder if the silk would make good instrument strings.