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. 2018 Jun 11;19(6):2227-2237.
doi: 10.1021/acs.biomac.8b00232. Epub 2018 May 2.

Combination of Amorphous Silk Fiber Spinning and Postspinning Crystallization for Tough Regenerated Silk Fibers

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Combination of Amorphous Silk Fiber Spinning and Postspinning Crystallization for Tough Regenerated Silk Fibers

Kenjiro Yazawa et al. Biomacromolecules. .
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Abstract

An artificial spinning system using regenerated silk fibroin solutions is adopted to produce high-performance silk fibers. In previous studies, alcohol-based agents, such as methanol or ethanol, were used to coagulate silk dope solutions, producing silk fiber with poor mechanical properties compared with those of native silk fibers. The alcohol-based coagulation agents induce rapid β-sheet crystallization of the silk molecules, which inhibits subsequent alignment of the β-sheet crystals. Here, we induce gradual β-sheet formation to afford adequate β-sheet alignment similar to that of native silk fiber. To this aim, we developed an amorphous silk fiber spinning process that prevents fast β-sheet formation in silk molecules by using tetrahydrofuran (THF) as a coagulation solvent. In addition, we apply postdrawing to the predominantly amorphous silk fibers to induce β-sheet formation and orientation. The resultant silk fibers showed a 2.5-fold higher extensibility, resulting in 1.5-fold tougher silk fibers compared with native Bombyx mori silk fiber. The amorphous silk fiber spinning process developed here will pave the way to the production of silk fibers with desired mechanical properties.

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