Electrical properties of silk


The Living Force
I have been curious what properties silk may have which gives it the anti-EMF effects the Cs recommend it for. I did not find anything about it until now. Here is an interesting research paper:

Electricity from the Silk Cocoon Membrane

Two types of silk cocoons are used in electrical experiments. One is the most common type, Bombix Mori which feeds on Mulberry leaves. The other kind is Tasar, which as an interesting detail has an outer coating of calcium oxalate crystals. I wonder if this has anything to do with how the Cs emphasize mulberries in connection with silk.

As far as the experiments performed both types are very similar.

Apparently silk is mostly protein, which contains various minerals such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium etc. The Tassar silk has higher concentrations of copper.

This is a really weird research paper though, because they construct some device which is presumed to show unique properties of silk and then at the end they do the same thing with paper with what looks like the same results. It seems like they just hopped onto the eco-friendly slant just to get their paper views. The main idea seems to be that a moisture gradient through the cocoon causes an electrical charge. But according to their own paper it seems this is not any different than paper.

It looks to me like silk is more conductive than air in humid conditions and this would translate into a faraday-cage like effect at low frequencies. It depends on moisture level so skin contact may be an important factor. I just did an informal test and while the resistance of the silk shirt I'm wearing is too high to measure and it doesn't have any significant capacitance, so I doubt it has much EMF blocking ability. Maybe for ELF. I tried again with the NFC panel on our smart washer (we went with NFC rather than Wifi). The silk shirt had absolutely no effect on the EMF meter no matter how I tried.

However the citations in this paper lead to a lot of other interesting research on silk.

Figure 2: Isolation and characterization of the UV absorbing fluorophore derived from the surface of the silk cocoon and pupae.

Apparently a silk cocoon has a chemical which converts UV light into visible light somewhere between violet and indigo. It also has impressive thermal regulation properties in maintaining a stable temperature inside. I don't know if that translates into clothing after the thread cleaning and processing though.

It is interesting that silk fiber is mostly protein, and the Cs say that proteins are antennas. If silk has an EMF protective effect then I think we may want to look elsewhere than it's electrical properties. Perhaps it has an effect on the light that reaches the skin, or has a useful effect on pollutants.


Jedi Master
Electrical/Dielectric properties of silk. Here are a few sites, abstract information, for your own research.

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Silk Polymer Coating with Low Dielectric Constant and High Thermal Stability for Ulsi Interlayer Dielectric | MRS Online Proceedings Library (OPL) | Cambridge Core

The breakdown here is that silk worm Silk has certain electrical properties. It has been investigated for gate material in computer chip design. I did find an electrical constant on it of 2.65. For the non-technical person, this is its ability to store electrical energy in an electrical field, as a transformer would do. A silk scarf, that is charged in this way, could transfer this energy to you. You might get a similar response from a static shock buildup in the silk.

Silk of this type can withstand a good amount of heat. I see temperatures capable of 450°C in a processed form. The silk scarf will not withstand this, maybe 180-250°C. Please do not test this by burning one.

As for electrical capabilities and how many volts to use is a suitable question. What to charge the test material with? We will continue to use this Silk scarf as our test material. They are looking at this material for use in computer chips. That means lower voltages of less than 12 volts, more often it is 5 volts or less, depending on utilization. This is good, such a low voltage is typically not even noticed as long as there is not a high current situation.

Technically this voltage, to me, needs to be in a wave form. I am not too sure if it should be a sine wave or square function. This will need to be tested, on which wave is best. This means you will need a power generator that allows you to vary this output. Should have an oscilloscope to monitor/validate the output. 12 Volts DC can run underwater pumps with exposed bare wires, without shorting out.

How to apply this to the test material? Well do not directly connect electrical power to the scarf. You will need to setup a field in a metal plate and lay the scarf on top of it. It will act as a transformer and transfer this electrical energy to the test material. This is because of the dielectric constant, which allows it to store the energy. I am thinking about something that is used to demonstrate Static electricity events in ESD (electrical sensitive discharge) on all electrical components. Here are some fun applications, playing with static.

Now static is high voltage to make these events happen. You typically can feel 1000 Volts when you get an electric shock. Some static events could be in the 10K volts or higher. That is not what is needed here. I am thinking a metal plate wired to the energy source, a capacitor through a switch. Metal plate to an insulative surface, wood will do. Place the test material on the plate. Hands off and trigger the switch to give a pulse of electricity to the plate. The charge will dissipate quickly and hopefully leave a charge on the scarf.

Now taking the charge off the scarf. It may be slow. We human’s have a resistive value. That will change how fast the charge will dissipate into you. It might be a moment like a static shock, but at such a low voltage you may not even feel this. Or it could dissipate in a longer time interval, a minute, an hour or longer. The charge might not even leave the scarf. That is until you, or the scarf, touches a grounded point. Brushing the scarf on the screw in the cover of an outlet or switch and discharging it. Or any grounding surface, the doorframe of your car will do. So, if you do achieve this, then be aware of grounding it out and discharging the energy. Playing with static can show you this. Charge yourself up and go around touching various items, door knobs, the screen door, them metal counter at the store. Know what you need to keep it away from.

I see no other worm/caterpillar silk tested. Silk worm silk is fairly constant. Spider silk is a different subject as electrical properties can vary greatly between what spider created it. Some of the strongest spider silks have physical properties well beyond that of steel cabling. I do not see any repeatable research into electrical properties, but with varying strength comes variations in electrical capabilities. Higher resistance and such. Maybe a different field from it. That may be why the C’s specified the silk worm Silk.

Old silk vs new silk. There may be a difference in them. Better or stronger filed holding capability. More variables to research. Thickness should increase the energy holding.

Safety is needed here. This is playing with electricity and should be done by professionals. A good grounding source near any testing is a requirement. You may need to discharge some energy quickly. I am thinking a metal plate, wood handle that is tied to earth ground. Keep it close by, just in case.

Electricity is dangerous. Even static electricity can be damaging as I have seen with ESD events. But this concept in a lower voltage does seem that it could produce some effect to the wearer. Especially with the C’s backing up a charging theory. Silk is something that could hold a charge. Keep it safe, Haiku …


Jedi Master

third try, Haiku ...


The Living Force
I am more looking for stuff that would apply to silk as used in stuff you would wear. A lot of tests are done after melting the silk through some chemical process or extracting a specific compound. Highly processed silk used in experimental semiconductors is not necessarily relevant to clothing.

As a case in point, the first article I mentioned describes how silk has a glass transition temperature of about 60C and some of the tests are done at 80C. Well your silk clothes will probably never be anywhere near 60C, so the results are of questionable importance for what we want to know.


FOTCM Member
This is an interesting topic. I only have a basic understanding of electricity so can't add much but I did find the following paper that suggests that "Electrical studies indicated that, when dry, SCM (Silk Cocoon Membrane) behaves like an insulator. On absorbing moisture, it generates electrical current, which is further modulated by temperature". This paper is about the silk cocoon though and not the processed product.



The Living Force
That is the article I linked to in the first post. I agree that what happens in the cocoon is not necessarily what will happen after it has been turned into a shirt.


The Living Force
One interesting possibility is that the moisture diffusion through the silk or the sunlight on it generates a voltage potential which in effect improves the electrical current through the body. Both of these are apparently possible according to the research, but again it was only demonstrated in cocoons.


Jedi Master
Another charging solution. Inductive charger for your phone, for those that have them, sends low voltage with less than 100 watts output wirelessly to the phone. A person could possibly charge a folded scarf on it. If the charger only works when phone is detected, then place between phone and charger. Just another possibility for charging the scarf. I do not have one of these, so I cannot test. Be careful, I do not know what effect you will get. Haiku …


The Living Force
It would have no effect, electricity doesn't work like that. You don't get high voltage out of an AC magnetic field without some kind of electrical converter.


Jedi Council Member
Thank you very much monotonic and haiku for the information provided. Very interesting stuff I need to gather more information about.

Just one fun fact: pure silk is not easy to set on fire, even the smallest and thinnest cloth of pure silk with no add ons resists at least two minutes or even longer when held over the flame of a lighter. So when u are shopping silk clothing and the shop assistant tells u it is pure silk, then just take out your lighter and say "ok, then it will resist my lighter fire easyly..." and maybe then its not "pure" silk anymore...

(No, to be honest, there are a lot of chemicals in shop clothes that "prepare" the clothes for optimal looks so to say to attract a buyer soon, so even pure silk will sometimes burn readily.)


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Just one fun fact: pure silk is not easy to set on fire, even the smallest and thinnest cloth of pure silk with no add ons resists at least two minutes or even longer when held over the flame of a lighter. So when u are shopping silk clothing and the shop assistant tells u it is pure silk, then just take out your lighter and say "ok, then it will resist my lighter fire easyly..." and maybe then its not "pure" silk anymore..

Interesting that I recently talked with a fellow (at a fabric store), that informed me also that not all silk are a like. And that many fabric store's stock this martial (which is not pure silk), but combinations of less than pure with synthetic materials.

Obviously pure silk (and the nitty-gritty), is very expansive, so the mixing of an inferior product is sold at cheaper price, for mass appeal, and profitability.

Grade A :
is top grade silk that can be unraveled without silk floss breaking. When stretched out, a single silk floss can be as long as a mile. The cocoon itself has a pearly white color with a healthy sheen to it. When a comforter is made with only grade A silk, the workers only stitch the silk floss filling to the edge of the comforter to hold the silk floss filling in place. Because the silk floss is so long, there’s no stitching required anywhere to keep them in place. This means the comforter is simply two layers of fabrics with a cloudy silk filling in the middle with even thickness all around.

Silk also has very little clumps of silk. Over time, clumps of silk will get clumpier and it will create air pockets in the nearby area. When it gets rubbed over and over against cover fabrics, it will also get clumpier. This will greatly diminish the even warmness of a silk comforter. Because silk comforter drapes around you, any air pockets will feel like uncomfortable cold pockets. With Grade A silk containing minimal clumps, your silk comforter will be able to provide even warm all around you. Also without clumps, silk comforter can maintain its initial silk floss batting structure better and thus enhance the longevity of the comforter. A good silk comforter can last 10+ years.

Another tell-tale sign of a grade A silk is its touch. It feels soft and light. This enhances the breathability of your silk comforter and you feel like as if you are sleeping under a cloud. It will also look pearly white without any added manufacturing process. If you take a good sniff, you can also smell the sweetish smell of silk, a calming sensation

Grade B:
Silk are cocoons that can only generate short floss instead of long floss. Something happened to the development process of the cocoon. grade B silk may look similar in color compared with Grade A but it definitely contains clumps. Clumps over time as we discussed will create unevenness and air pockets in your silk comforters. Because of its shorter floss, stitching is required throughout the comforter. This diminishes the comfort of a silk comforter. By touch, grade B silk feels rough compared with grade A and lacks a natural sheen.

Grade C:
Silk is actually the most inner layer of silk that is closest to the cocoon. After workers remove either grade A or B silk, what is left is grade C silk. It looks yellow and often has brown dots because it contains oil from the silk worm. It is very rough to touch and feels cotton like. It doesn’t contain any natural sheen and the floss is very short. When a silk comforter is made with grade C silk, stitching is definitely required all over the comforter to keep the short floss in place. Breathability and lightness of the comforter are greatly compromised because of its cotton-like lumpy feel. If the color looks white, that means it is actually bleached which damages the structure of the silk and making it even rougher.

There are actually grade AAA, grade AA, grade BBB, grade BB, grade CCC and grade CC. These grades of silk are standardized within silk manufacturing industry in China and there are quality, inspection, and testing bureau to help consumer verify the grades. You may wonder why people even use grade C for silk comforters? The answer is simply demand. There’s limited production of silk floss per year and with high demand from China and around the world, many manufacturers uses grade C silk to fill orders. At Mari Ann, we only use Grade AAA Mulberry silk, which is only the top 3-5% of mulberry silk production. It is the finest silk available in the world.
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