Liquid crystallinity of natural silk secretions

  title={Liquid crystallinity of natural silk secretions},
  author={Keven Kerkam and Christopher Viney and David Lee Kaplan and Stephen J. Lombardi},
NATURAL silk exhibits a strength and stiffness similar to, and a toughness up to ten times greater than, that of artificial high-performance fibres1–5. These exceptional tensile properties, the optical birefringence of some silk secretions6–9 and the molecular order exhibited by some synthetic polypeptides in solution10 all suggest that natural silk secretions might form liquid-crystalline phases. We have now used polarized-light microscopy to study the secretions from major ampullae of spiders… 

Molecular Order in Silk Secretions

Transmitted polarized light microscopy of various natural silk secretions reveals their ability to form nematic liquid crystalline phases. Observations of microstructure, together with a simple

Chemical Synthesis of Silk-Mimetic Polymers

This review describes the relationships between primary sequence and material properties in natural silk fibroin and furthermore discusses chemical approaches towards the synthesis of silk-mimetic polymers, which can potentially exhibit the advantageous features of natural silk while possessing synthetic flexibility as well as non-natural compositions.

Differential polymerization of the two main protein components of dragline silk during fibre spinning

The findings suggest that the role of spidroin 2 in the spinning process could be to facilitate the formation of fibrils and contribute directly to the elasticity of the silk.

The Thin Ribbon Silk of the Brown Recluse Spider: Structure, Mechanical Behavior, and Biomimicry

Silk has enormous potential as a next-generation material: it is a biopolymer spun from protein at ambient temperature and pressure, and the best spider silks are as strong as steel and tougher than

Mechanisms of native and artificial spinning of spider silk

Based on the knowledge generated on native silk spinning, a biomimetic method to spin artificial spider silk fibers was developed and a chimeric recombinant spidroin was designed by combining a highly soluble NT and CT with a short repetitive region.

Liquid crystals and flow elongation in a spider's silk production line

  • D. KnightF. Vollrath
  • Materials Science
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
  • 1999
Our observations on whole mounted major ampullate silk glands suggested that the thread is drawn from a hyperbolic die using a pre–orientated lyotropic liquid crystalline feedstock. Polarizing

Liquid crystalline spinning of spider silk

Successful copying of the spider's internal processing and precise control over protein folding, combined with knowledge of the gene sequences of its spinning dopes, could permit industrial production of silk-based fibres with unique properties under benign conditions.

Role of pH and charge on silk protein assembly in insects and spiders

Silk fibers possess impressive mechanical properties, dependant, in part, on the crystalline β-sheets silk II conformation. The transition to silk II from soluble silk I-like conformation in silk



Spider silk as rubber

The silks produced by spiders are exceptional structural materials. Although their tensile strengths are similar to those of cellulose, collagen and chitin, their extensibilities are considerably

Raman Spectroscopic Investigation of the Denaturation Process of Silk Fibroin

The mechanical denaturation process of silk fibroin is examined by Raman spectroscopy. The fresh silk fibroins from the middle gland of mature silkworms are drawn to various ratios on a tensile

Modulation of the mechanical properties of spider silk by coating with water

THE orb web of the garden cross spider Araneus diadetnatus is made up of two types of thread with distinctive mechanical properties: stiff radial threads which sag when contracted by only 10%, and


The physical properties of the viscid and frame silks allow them to function effectively as shock absorbers and structural elements, respectively; and allow the orb-web to function as an aerial filter with a minimum expenditure of material and energy.

Properties and applications of liquid-crystalline main-chain polymers

The development is reviewed of liquid-crystalline polymers whose mesophase formation derives from the nature of the chemical units in the main chain. The emphasis lies primarily on highly aromatic

The physics of liquid crystals

Part 1 Liquid crystals - main types and properties: introduction - what is a liquid crystal? the building blocks nematics and cholesterics smectics columnar phases more on long-, quasi-long and

Textbook Of Polymer Science

The Science of Large Molecules POLYMERIZATION Step-Reaction (Condensation) Polymerization Radical Chain (Addition) Polymerization Ionic and Coordination Chain (Addition) Polymerization