Spider Silk for Capturing Bioaerosols: Microbial Minutes

Sept. 1, 2023

Spider silk-inspired fibers capture and kill bacteria in the air. How might they inform the development of air purification and filtration systems?

What's Hot in the Microbial Sciences?

ASM presents Microbial Minutes, a video series of trending topics in the microbial sciences.

When you think of air filters, spider silk is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Recent research could change that. Researchers developed artificial spider silk that catches and inactivates bacteria aerosols—which can pose a risk to human health—with near 100% efficiency. How exactly do these fibers work? Key take-aways and resources used in this Microbial Minutes are listed below.  

Key Take-Aways

  • Bioaerosols can pose a risk to human health.  
  • Commercial air filters are useful for capturing bioaerosols, though have some limitations (e.g., high energy consumption, do not kill microbes and more). 
  • Scientists created an artificial spider silk photocatalyst that captures bacteria aerosols and, in contrast to commercial systems, inactivates them with an efficiency of 99.99%. 
  • The findings provide a foundation for developing new, efficient and effective air filters.


The Study 

Additional Sources

Subscribe to ASM's Youtube channel to be notified of all future Microbial Minutes updates. 

Author: Madeline Barron, Ph.D.

Madeline Barron, Ph.D.
Madeline Barron, Ph.D. is the Science Communications Specialist at ASM. She obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.