Spider-silk inspired polymeric networks by harnessing the mechanical potential of β-sheets through network guided assembly.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Nature communications, 2020, 11, (1)
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
The high toughness of natural spider-silk is attributed to their unique β-sheet secondary structures. However, the preparation of mechanically strong β-sheet rich materials remains a significant challenge due to challenges involved in processing the polymers/proteins, and managing the assembly of the hydrophobic residues. Inspired by spider-silk, our approach effectively utilizes the superior mechanical toughness and stability afforded by localised β-sheet domains within an amorphous network. Using a grafting-from polymerisation approach within an amorphous hydrophilic network allows for spatially controlled growth of poly(valine) and poly(valine-r-glycine) as β-sheet forming polypeptides via N-carboxyanhydride ring opening polymerisation. The resulting continuous β-sheet nanocrystal network exhibits improved compressive strength and stiffness over the initial network lacking β-sheets of up to 30 MPa (300 times greater than the initial network) and 6 MPa (100 times greater than the initial network) respectively. The network demonstrates improved resistance to strong acid, base and protein denaturants over 28 days.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: