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Issue 4, 2015
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Rheology of reconstituted silk fibroin protein gels: the epitome of extreme mechanics

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Abstract

In nature, silk fibroin proteins assemble into hierarchical structures with dramatic mechanical properties. With the hope of creating new classes of on demand silk-based biomaterials, Bombyx mori silk is reconstituted back into stable aqueous solutions that can be reassembled into functionalized materials; one strategy for reassembly is electrogelation. Electrogels (e-gels) are particularly versatile and can be produced using electrolysis with small DC electric fields. We characterize the linear and nonlinear rheological behavior of e-gels to provide fundamental insights into these distinct protein-based materials. We observe that e-gels form robust biopolymer networks that exhibit distinctive strain hardening and are recoverable from strains as large as γ = 27, i.e. 2700%. We propose a simple microscopic model that is consistent with local restructuring of single proteins within the e-gel network.

Graphical abstract: Rheology of reconstituted silk fibroin protein gels: the epitome of extreme mechanics

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Publication details

The article was received on 16 Sep 2014, accepted on 01 Dec 2014 and first published on 01 Dec 2014


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4SM02079K
Soft Matter, 2015,11, 756-761

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    Rheology of reconstituted silk fibroin protein gels: the epitome of extreme mechanics

    A. P. Tabatabai, D. L. Kaplan and D. L. Blair, Soft Matter, 2015, 11, 756
    DOI: 10.1039/C4SM02079K

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