A new approach to violin making may be about to emerge which makes use of a rather unexpected material.
A prototype instrument made using silk from an Australian Golden Orb Spider has been developed by a student at Imperial College London. The silk’s natural ability to transfer vibrations makes it ideal for customising the sound of a violin, according to Luka Alessandrini, who has patented the design and hopes to make it commercially available soon.
Alessandrini produced a composite material which includes three strands of golden silk spun by the Australian Orb. This species was chosen because it produces the strongest silk.
In the course of producing the material, Alessandrini is able to engineer the acoustics of the instrument depending on the requirements. The silk composite performs better in this area than other materials like carbon fibre.
“Spiders’ silk has only previously been exploited as string in bows for instruments, but I’ve discovered that the amazing resonating property of spiders’ silk has massive potential uses in instruments themselves,” Alessandrini said.
The instrument has been exhibited at several shows this summer in London, including the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition. In case you missed it, you can hear what it sounds like below.