There are many similarities between the materials used by Fio Omenetto in the TED video and the materials used by the Japanese samurai. To begin, both methods originated in Asia. Silk making was originally a Chinese secret. Samurai swords are obviously from Japan.
Despite the drastic difference in the final results, he methods used to obtain the results are remarkably similar. In order to forge a sword, the Japanese had to be aware of the physical properties of the metals used. Some physical properties would be hardness and toughness. If the sword was too hard, it would break easily. If it was too tough, then it would bend, rendering it useless in battle. The Japanese used a combination of the two properties to create a dynamic, durable sword. Knowledge of melting points was crucial in tempering the blade.
Fio Omenetto’s team had to be aware of the properties of the material they were using. Silk is biodegradable, bio compatible, and edible, making it a versatile and unique material. With modern knowledge of chemistry as well as modern technology, Omenetto’s team has been able to create products varying from cups and holograms, to nuts and bolts.
A difference between the two methods is that the Japanese had a set goal in mind, which was a sword. Omenetto’s team didn’t aim to produce a cup from silk. Rather, they wanted to explore the possibilities that silk had to offer. However, knowledge of chemistry, basic and complex, was necessary for both groups to achieve their goal. Regardless of the passage of time, chemistry will remain a vital tool in the mankind’s endeavor to create, innovate, and manipulate his surroundings. It’s old, new, and ageless at the same time.