Uttu-Textiles.com // Issam Yousef // 9th December 2013
Building a super soldier sounds like a sci-fi movie, where super strong soldiers are being manufactured in the lab, but you would be surprise how close this is to happen. One of the features of an “engineered” soldier is having a bulletproof skin. Research was carried out to use spider silk properties and grafting spider silk to the skin.
Jalila Essaidi and Forensic Genomics had worked on a project called “ 2.6 g 329 m/s”, the name derived form the maximum weight and velocity that can be withstand by a type 1 bullet proof vest from a .22 calibre rifle bullet. The project aimed to produce skin with spider silk between the epidermis and dermis layers, figure (1).
Figure (1): Epidermis and Dermis in the skin, adapted from http://colinsbeautypages.co.uk/great-photograph-of-dermis-and-epidermis-from-wikipedia/
Figure (2): Testing the skin against bullets, adapted from http://www.designboom.com/art/fusing-skin-cells-with-spider-silk-for-bullet-proof-skin-by-jalila-essaidi/
The material was made by seeding spider silk with human skin cell, and it was put into test against normal speed .22 rifle and reduced speed rifle. The skien passed the test of the reduced speed bullet but failed in stopping the normal speed bullet. However, the designer did not consider the fail of the test as a fail of the project due to the dialogue it created on different levels of the society.