Research Highlight

Power from silk cocoons

doi:10.1038/nindia.2014.90 Published online 2 July 2014

Device made from Antheraea mylitta silk cocoons. 


Researchers have utilised humidity and temperature dependent electrical properties of a silk worm’s cocoon to generate electricity that can be used to operate low power electronic devices1

The researchers made a bio-hybrid device from Antheraea mylitta silk cocoons. The device behaves as an energy converter and capacitor, which gets charged on being exposed to temperature and humidity. They infused water vapour inside the silk cocoon. The cocoon ensures uniform distribution of water vapor all over its inner surface, and generates sufficient power to operate a small LED bulb.

These findings, if perfected and blended into technological endeavors, could impact the device fabrication industry by offering a greener route for synthesizing a self-operating bio-hybrid solid-state device, according to the researchers.

One of the lead researchers Sushil Kumar Singh says the bio-inspired technology integrates two diverse systems – biological and electronics – to address the challenge of clean and green energy. The other lead researcher Mainak Das says the technology could be a 'green answer' to waste heat management in thermal and nuclear power plants, iron ore and steel industry as well as the paper pulp industry.

The authors of this work are from: IIT Kanpur; Solid State Physics Laboratory & Defense Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences laboratory of Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO); Chemistry department, Delhi University; and Center of Biomedical Magnetic Resonance, Lucknow, India.


1. Tulachan, B. et al. Electricity from the Silk Cocoon Membrane. Sci. Rep. (2014) doi: 10.1038/srep05434