Date : 10/04/2009 à 14h00
Spider silk is a remarkable material, with significant potential for use in a range of biomedical applications, particularly in devices, tissue replacement and repair. Biocompatibility and biodegradability, plus exceptional mechanical properties, make this material an interesting subject for investigation. Further, since silks are produced by spinning rather than by growth, they have a realistic potential for bulk production and commercial application. The most significant barrier to the application of silks in vivo is that the mechanical qualities of synthetic spider silks, which are required for implantation, fall far below that of their natural counterparts. Before effective synthetic silks can be produced, we need to better understand the mechanisms by which natural spider silk processes stress. This presentation gives an overview of our recent work on the structure-function relationships in spider silk with a view to instructing synthetic silk production. Specifically, atomic force microscopy and synchrotron x-ray scattering experiments have been performed before and after forced disorder (supercontraction) by immersion in water. The nanometer scale properties, and the restructuring upon hydration, give an interesting insight into the stress processing mechanisms in the fibre.
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