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Structural Studies of Bombyx mori Silk Fibroin during Regeneration from Solutions and Wet Fiber Spinning

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journal contribution
posted on 09.05.2005, 00:00 by Sung-Won Ha, Alan E. Tonelli, Samuel M. Hudson
Regenerated silk fibroin materials show properties dependent on the methods used to process them. The molecular structures of B. mori silk fibroin both in solution and in solid states were studied and compared using X-ray diffraction, FTIR, and 13C NMR spectroscopy. Some portion of fibroin protein molecules dissolved in formic acid already have a β-sheet structure, whereas those dissolved in TFA have some helical conformation. Moreover, fibroin molecules were spontaneously assembled into an ordered structure as the acidic solvents were removed from the fibroin-acidic solvent systems. This may be responsible for the improved physical properties of regenerated fibroin materials from acidic solvents. Regenerated fibroin materials have shown poor mechanical properties and brittleness compared to their original form. These problems were technically solved by improving the fiber forming process according to a method reported here. The regenerated fibroin fibers showed much better mechanical properties compared to the native silk fiber and their physical and chemical properties were characterized by X-ray diffraction, solid state 13C NMR spectroscopy, SinTech tensile testing, and SEM.