Oxford Silk Group ABRG, Department of Zoology, Oxford University Argiope
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Jumping spider devouring a tropical capterpillar
Jumping spider


The range of machines and associated techniques employed by our group allows us to test silk under a wide variety of conditions and environments. Combined with our unique modelling capability we aim to turn this wealth of data into information regarding the structure-function properties of silk.

The following is a list of our in-house equipment:

Dynamic Mechanical Thermal Analyser (DMTA)
TA Instruments Q800 DMTA Specifications

Description: DMTA allows the measurement of a material’s stiffness in multiple modes of deformation against a range of temperatures (-150 – 600C). This provides information regarding the modulus of the material and quantifies mechanical transitions on the basis of time (frequency and rate), temperature and humidity. More

Accessories: Humidity accessory, Low temperature option, complete clamp set (dual cantilever, tension film fibre, shear sandwich, powder clamp, compression submersion, submersion 3-point bend, submersion 3-point bend)


Differential Scanning Calorimeter
TA Instruments Q2000 DSC Specifications

Description: DSC subjects a sample to a thermal gradient and measures the amount of energy required to bring the sample to a set temperature. This provides information regarding heat capacity and quantifies energetic transitions within a material (endo or exotherms). More


Accessories: 50 sample autosampler, intercooler (-90 – 600C)


Thermo Gravimetric Analyser
TA Instruments Q500 TGA Specifications

Description: TGA measures a samples change in weight with respect to temperature. This provides information regarding thermal degradation and water content (ambient – 1000C). More


Accessories: Range of crucibles.


Bohlin Gemini HR Nano Malvern Instruments Specifications

Description: A rheometer enables the mechanical properties (viscosity, modulus) of viscoelastic materials to be determined as a function of time and temperature. More

Bohlin Gemini HR Nano Rheometer

Accessories: Range of cone-and-plate and parallel plate geometries.


Tensile Tester
Zwick Zwicki-Line Z0.5 Specifications and PDF

Description: Our new tensile tester allows deformation testing of fibres, films and composites to better accuracy and with less noise than was previously possible, in a logical and efficient workflow package.  More


Accessories: Clamps, load cells, integrated software.


Tensile Tester
Instron 5542 Specifications and Custom microtensile tester

Description: Samples (fibres, film, composites) are deformed  by pulling them apart, providing information regarding material properties under tension. To get the best from the raw data custom analysis software has been developed. More


Accessories: Multiple load cells and clamping options.


Fourier Transform Infra-Red (FTIR) Spectroscopy
Thermo Nicolet 6700 FTIR Specifications

Description: FTIR is a measurement technique for collecting infrared spectra, this provides a chemical fingerprint of a material, this is extended through incorporation with a microscope and microscope stage to allow chemical mapping of a sample down to micron resolution. In conjunction with the cryostat it is possible to analyse how the molecular structure/organisation of a material changes in response to temperature (-50 – 600C) More


Accessories: Two detectors (MCTA and TEC InGaAs), Transmission mode, Diamond ATR, Diffuse reflectance, FTIR Microscope, motorised stage with >10µm resolution, Oxford Instruments Cryostat, Heated "Golden Gate" Single reflection diamond ATR accessory


Quantitative Polarisation Microscope
Metripol System Oxford Cryosystems

Description: The Metripol system permits quantitative measurement of the orientation and amount of birefringence in a sample which provides information regarding its molecular structure and organisation.  More


Accessories: 6 filters, narrow and broad spectrum, range of air, dipping and oil objectives.


Scanning Electron Microscope
Jeol Neoscope JCM-5000 Specifications

Description: This is a benchtop solution for scanning electron microscopy. By using a beam of electrons instead of light it is possible to visulaise objects that are smaller then the size limits of conventional light microscopy.The increased depth of field and resolution allows for finer details to be resolved and sub-micron strucutres to be characterised.  More


Accessories: Holders and mounts for practically all SEM stubs


Portable Laser Vibrometer
Polytec PDV-100 Portable Digital Vibrometer Specifications

Description: A laser is used to measure vibrations on solid surfaces (e.g. spider web). Being a non-contact method, the vibrometer is very useful at picking up a range of cryptic or small amplitude vibrations 0-22 kHz. Raw time-velocity data can be transformed through accompanying software into frequency-magnitude plots, providing data on vibration propagation, resonance and damping.  More


Accessories: battery or mains powered, portable for the field up to 30 m working distance


3D Scanning Laser Vibrometer
Polytec PSV-400-3D Scanning Laser Vibrometer Specifications

Description: Similar to the portable vibrometer, the scanning laser vibrometer allows the vibrations of solid surfaces to be measured. The fitted camera allows accurate focussing of the laser onto the sample of interest and the scanning feature allows large amounts of data to be collected over a given area of shape of interest.

Three scanning heads allows the 3D motion of surfaces to be measured, with a large range of potential applications. Spot size of the laser is down to a few squared millimetres, but samples of smaller sizes can be measured if suspended and the laser can be focussed onto it (e.g. silks).

Working distance is up to 5 m and velocities are up to 10 m/s. The vibrometer has a large frequency range than the portable vibrometer - up to 2.5 MHz.


Automatic Expresso Machine
Gaggia Titanium 90500 Specifications

Description: This is a benchtop solution for research stimulation. By using two boilers it is possible to eliminate wait time between brewing and steaming. With features like the automatic frothing attachment, stainless steel turbo frother, bypass doser, adjustable coffee strength and grind settings, new ideas are brewed up in no time.  More

Titanium Gaggie

Accessories: Automatic frothing attachment, bean hopper bypass doser




Recent News

November 2019

Prof. Fritz Vollrath and colleagues from the Fudan University in China are widely covered in the news for their discovery of a means to produce fake Rhino horns using horse hair. Hopes are that this product may undermine the illegal market for rhino horn, and demistify the properties of rhino horn. View Here


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Copyright 2007 OSG last updated 21 December, 2015