A Korean research team successfully developed a technique to make carbon fiber, a futuristic material, using natural protein like a spider's webs.
A research team headed by Jin Hyung-joon, professor of the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering at Inha University, announced on May 28 that they succeeded in developing a method to make a carbon material using natural protein.
They explained how protein, which is a linear polymer, turned into a hexagonal carbon chain compound by heat using a natural protein fiber like spider webs, after a several years of study. They found out that after going through heat treatment at 2,800 degrees, a spider web turned into carbon fiber. Based on the discovery, the research team manufactured carbon fiber and carbon materials with various nanostructures.
Carbon fiber is named as a replacement to the extent that it is considered to threaten the steel industry in the future. It is used as a material for cars and aircraft, generators, a structural material for generators, and a stiffener for construction.
The global carbon fiber market is expected to reach dozens of trillions of won in 2020, and therefore local large enterprises like Samsung and Hyosung are entering the market.
The research findings were published online in the latest issue of Nature Communications, a bi-monthly scientific journal published by the Nature Publishing Group.