Navigation Links
Behind the secrets of silk lie high-tech opportunities
Date:7/29/2010

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. -- Tougher than a bullet-proof vest yet synonymous with beauty and luxury, silk fibers are a masterpiece of nature whose remarkable properties have yet to be fully replicated in the laboratory.

Thanks to their amazing mechanical properties as well as their looks, silk fibers have been important materials in textiles, medical sutures, and even armor for 5,000 years.

Silk spun by spiders and silk worms combines high strength and extensibility. This one-two punch is unmatched by synthetics, even though silk is made from a relatively simple protein processed from water.

But in recent years scientists have begun to unravel the secrets of silk.

In the July 30, 2010, issue of the journal Science, Tufts biomedical engineering researchers Fiorenzo Omenetto, Ph.D., and David Kaplan, Ph.D., report that "Silk-based materials have been transformed in just the past decade from the commodity textile world to a growing web of applications in more high technology directions."

Fundamental discoveries into how silk fibers are made have shown that chemistry, molecular biology and biophysics all play a role in the process. These discoveries have provided the basis for a new generation of applications for silk materials, from medical devices and drug delivery to electronics.

Edible Optics, Implantable Electronics

The Science paper notes that the development of silk hydrogels, films, fibers and sponges is making possible advances in photonics and optics, nanotechnology, electronics, adhesives and microfluidics, as well as engineering of bone and ligaments. Because silk fiber formation does not rely on complex or toxic chemistries, such materials are biologically and environmentally friendly, even able to integrate with living systems.

Down the silk road of the future, Kaplan and Omenetto believe applications could include degradable and flexible electronic displays for sensors that are biologically and environmentally compatible and implantable optical systems for diagnosis and treatment. Progress in "edible optics" and implantable electronics has already been demonstrated by Kaplan and Omenetto, John Rogers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and others.

Many challenges remain. Kaplan and Omenetto say that key questions include how to fully replicate native silk assembly in the lab, how best to mimic silk protein sequences via genetic engineering to scale-up materials production, and how to use silk as a model polymer to spur new synthetic polymer designs that mimic natural silk's green chemistry.

Techniques for reprocessing natural silk protein in the lab continue to advance. Silks are also being cloned and expressed in a variety of hosts, including E. coli bacteria, fungi, plants and mammals, and through transgenic silkworms.

One day, efficient transgenic plants could be used to crop silk in much the same way that cotton is harvested today, the Tufts researchers note in their paper. In some regions, silk production might create a new microeconomy, as demand grows and production techniques improve.

"Based on the recent and rapid progression of silk materials from the ancient textile use into a host of new high-technology applications, we anticipate growth in the use of silks in a wide platform of applications will continue as answers to these remaining questions are obtained," say Omenetto and Kaplan.


'/>"/>

Contact: Kim Thurler
kim.thurler@tufts.edu
617-627-3175
Tufts University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Dinosaur-chewing mammals leave behind oldest known tooth marks
2. Gypsy moths wreak havoc, but their own enemies are not far behind
3. IOM report recommends framework to evaluate science behind health claims for foods and drugs
4. Untangling the quantum entanglement behind photosynthesis
5. Study pins factors behind geography of human disease
6. Searching for genes behind a trait
7. Scientists reveal driving force behind evolution
8. IUPUI researchers tackle protein mechanisms behind limb regeneration
9. The cause behind the characteristic shape of a long leaf revealed
10. Satellite data look behind the scenes of deadly earthquake
11. Fox Chase researchers uncover one force behind the MYC oncogene in many cancers
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Behind the secrets of silk lie high-tech opportunities
(Date:1/8/2016)... ANGELES and MANCHESTER, United Kingdom ... ("BBI"), a developer of innovative sensor-based diagnostic products, today announced ... financed by new and existing investors.  Proceeds from the financing ... SEM Scanner , a hand-held device for detecting early-stage pressure ... Ireland after receiving CE Mark approval. ...
(Date:1/7/2016)... , Jan. 7, 2016 Various factors ... biopharmaceutical products such as biologics and biosimilars. Some ... reduce healthcare expenditure, growing demand for cost-effective alternatives, ... population. Biosimilars are similar versions of their corresponding ... to their quality, safety, and efficacy. The global ...
(Date:1/6/2016)... Calif. , Jan. 6, 2016 ... biometrics market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes MorphoTrak, LLC, ... 2015 North American Frost & Sullivan Company of ... contactless fingerprint scanning technology, Morpho Wave™ , has ... in the fingerprint biometrics market. Morpho Wave ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/3/2016)... Denmark , Feb. 3, 2016 Ascendis ... biotechnology company that applies its innovative TransCon technology to ... present at an upcoming investor conference.Event:2016 Leerink Partners Global ... NY Date:  , Wednesday, February 10, 2016 Time:  ... www.ascendispharma.com . --> An audio webcast ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... ... February 03, 2016 , ... Aerocom, a world-leading supplier ... the North American healthcare market. , Aerocom Healthcare, LLC will be based in ... will provide new pneumatic tube systems or expand existing systems within the U.S. ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... ... February 03, 2016 , ... Resilinc released ... and analyzes nearly 750 unique supply chain notifications and alerts generated by its ... Supply chain risk management practitioners subscribe to the EventWatch service to receive early ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... Buffalo, NY (PRWEB) , ... February 03, 2016 ... ... several new products to aid in the rapid development and ongoing quality control ... the Zika Virus outbreak is extremely high,” Dr. Gregory R. Chiklis, President and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: