Want to make strong fibers? Use knots!

Laboratory Equipment points out that simple solutions can have bigger effects than you’d imagine, when it comes to the raw material we’re making things out of:

Publishing in the journal PLOS ONE, the paper suggests the new method could make ordinary polymers — large molecules with repeating units — reach unprecedented toughness by adding a knot to absorb additional energy.

“The simple maneuver of adding a slip knot creates a coil of extra length that is resistant when it comes under tension and can dissipate energy thanks to the friction in the knot,” says author Nicola Pugno, professor of materials science at Queen Mary’s School of Engineering and Materials Science.

The configuration that allowed for the most toughness was produced with [the fishing line polymer] endumax, increasing its toughness from 44 Joules per gram to 1,070 Joules per gram, the equivalent of ten times that of Kevlar….

Pugno plans to use the discovery to help make tougher medical implants and eco-friendly packaging… anytime you want to make a material stronger than it ought to be.