Optical surface profiling of orb-web spider capture silks

D. M. Kane, A. M. Joyce, G. R. Staib, M. E. Herberstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Much spider silk research to date has focused on its mechanical properties. However, the webs of many orb-web spiders have evolved for over 136 million years to evade visual detection by insect prey. It is therefore a photonic device in addition to being a mechanical device. Herein we use optical surface profiling of capture silks from the webs of adult female St Andrews cross spiders (Argiope keyserlingi) to successfully measure the geometry of adhesive silk droplets and to show a bowing in the aqueous layer on the spider capture silk between adhesive droplets. Optical surface profiling shows geometric features of the capture silk that have not been previously measured and contributes to understanding the links between the physical form and biological function. The research also demonstrates non-standard use of an optical surface profiler to measure the maximum width of a transparent micro-sized droplet (microlens).

Original languageEnglish
Article number036004
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalBioinspiration and Biomimetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010


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