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Amorphous Silk Nanofiber Solutions for Fabricating Silk-Based Functional Materials

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journal contribution
posted on 31.07.2016, 00:00 by Xiaodan Dong, Qun Zhao, Liying Xiao, Qiang Lu, David L. Kaplan
As a functional material, silk has been widely used in tissue engineering, drug release, and tissue regeneration. Increasing subtle control of silk hierarchical structures and thus specific functional performance is required for these applications but remains a challenge. Here, we report a novel silk nanofiber solution achieved through tuning solvent systems used to generate the material. Unlike the β-sheet rich silk nanofibers reported previously, these new silk nanofibers are mainly composed of amorphous structures and maintain a solution state in aqueous environments. The amorphous silk nanofibers are stable enough for storage and also metastable, making them easy to use in the further fabrication of materials through various processes. Silk scaffolds, hydrogels, and films were prepared from these silk nanofiber solutions. These silk materials from amorphous nanofiber solutions show different properties and tunable performance features. Therefore, these amorphous silk nanofibers are suitable units or building blocks for designing silk-based materials.