skip to main content


Title: Dual-Crystallizable Silk Fibroin/Poly(L-lactic Acid) Biocomposite Films: Effect of Polymer Phases on Protein Structures in Protein-Polymer Blends
Biopolymer composites based on silk fibroin have shown widespread potential due to their brilliant applications in tissue engineering, medicine and bioelectronics. In our present work, biocomposite nanofilms with different special topologies were obtained through blending silk fibroin with crystallizable poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) at various mixture rates using a stirring-reflux condensation blending method. The microstructure, phase components, and miscibility of the blended films were studied through thermal analysis in combination with Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and Raman analysis. X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscope were also used for advanced structural analysis. Furthermore, their conformation transition, interaction mechanism, and thermal stability were also discussed. The results showed that the hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic interactions existed between silk fibroin (SF) and PLLA polymer chains in the blended films. The secondary structures of silk fibroin and phase components of PLLA in composites vary at different ratios of silk to PLLA. The β-sheet content increased with the increase of the silk fibroin content, while the glass transition temperature was raised mainly due to the rigid amorphous phase presence in the blended system. This results in an increase in thermal stability in blended films compared to the pure silk fibroin films. This study provided detailed insights into the influence of synthetic polymer phases (crystalline, rigid amorphous, and mobile amorphous) on protein secondary structures through blending, which has direct applications on the design and fabrication of novel protein–synthetic polymer composites for the biomedical and green chemistry fields.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1809541
NSF-PAR ID:
10245300
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Volume:
22
Issue:
4
ISSN:
1422-0067
Page Range / eLocation ID:
1871
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The novel use of ionic liquid as a solvent for biodegradable and natural organic biomaterials has increasingly sparked interest in the biomedical field. As compared to more volatile traditional solvents that rapidly degrade the protein molecular weight, the capability of polysaccharides and proteins to dissolve seamlessly in ionic liquid and form fine and tunable biomaterials after regeneration is the key interest of this study. Here, a blended system consisting of Bombyx Mori silk fibroin protein and a cellulose derivative, cellulose acetate (CA), in the ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate (EMIMAc) was regenerated and underwent characterization to understand the structure and physical properties of the films. The change in the morphology of the biocomposites (by scanning electron microscope, SEM) and their secondary structure analysis (by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, FTIR) showed that the samples underwent a wavering conformational change on a microscopic level, resulting in strong interactions and changes in their crystalline structures such as the CA crystalline and silk beta-pleated sheets once the different ratios were applied. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) results demonstrated that strong molecular interactions were generated between CA and silk chains, providing the blended films lower glass transitions than those of the pure silk or cellulose acetate. All films that were blended had higher thermal stability than the pure cellulose acetate sample but presented gradual changes amongst the changing of ratios, as demonstrated by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). This study provides the basis for the comprehension of the protein-polysaccharide composites for various biomedical applications. 
    more » « less
  2. As the average life expectancy continues to increase, so does the need for resorbable materials designed to treat, augment, or replace components and functions of the body. Naturally occurring biopolymers such as silks are already attractive candidates due to natural abundance and high biocompatibility accompanied by physical properties which are easily modulated through blending with another polymer. In this paper, the authors report on the fabrication of biocomposite materials made from binary blends of Bombyx mori silk fibroin (SF) protein and renewably sourced low molecular weight nylon 610 and high molecular weight nylon 1010. Films were characterized using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Results of this study demonstrated that enhanced structural and thermal properties were achievable in composite films SF-N610/N1010 due to their chemical similarity and the possible formation of hydrogen bonds between nylon and silk molecular chains. This study provides useful insight into the sustainable design of functional composite materials for biomedical and green technologies. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Silk fibroin protein is a biomaterial with excellent biocompatibility and low immunogenicity. These properties have catapulted the material as a leader for extensive use in stents, catheters, and wound dressings. Modulation of hydrophobicity of silk fibroin protein to further expand the scope and utility however has been elusive. We report that installing perfluorocarbon chains on the surface of silk fibroin transforms this water‐soluble protein into a remarkably hydrophobic polymer that can be solvent‐cast. A clear relationship emerged between fluorine content of the modified silk and film hydrophobicity. Water contact angles of the most decorated silk fibroin protein exceeded that of Teflon®. We further show that water uptake in prefabricated silk bars is dramatically reduced, extending their lifetimes, and maintaining mechanical integrity. These results highlight the power of chemistry under moderate conditions to install unnatural groups onto the silk fibroin surface and will enable further exploration into applications of this versatile biomaterial.

     
    more » « less
  4. Silk fibroin (SF) is a protein polymer derived from insects, which has unique mechanical properties and tunable biodegradation rate due to its variable structures. Here, the variability of structural, thermal, and mechanical properties of two domesticated silk films (Chinese and Thailand B. Mori) regenerated from formic acid solution, as well as their original fibers, were compared and investigated using dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) and Fourier transform infrared spectrometry (FTIR). Four relaxation events appeared clearly during the temperature region of 25 °C to 280 °C in DMA curves, and their disorder degree (fdis) and glass transition temperature (Tg) were predicted using Group Interaction Modeling (GIM). Compared with Thai (Thailand) regenerated silks, Chin (Chinese) silks possess a lower Tg, higher fdis, and better elasticity and mechanical strength. As the calcium chloride content in the initial processing solvent increases (1%–6%), the Tg of the final SF samples gradually decrease, while their fdis increase. Besides, SF with more non-crystalline structures shows high plasticity. Two α- relaxations in the glass transition region of tan δ curve were identified due to the structural transition of silk protein. These findings provide a new perspective for the design of advanced protein biomaterials with different secondary structures, and facilitate a comprehensive understanding of the structure-property relationship of various biopolymers in the future. 
    more » « less
  5. Herein, we report the production of ionic polymer-metal composites (IPMCs) hybridized with cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) as a partial substitute for Nafion®. The aim is not only to reduce the production cost and enhance respective mechanical/thermal properties but also to bestow a considerable degree of biodegradability to such products. Formulations with di erent CNF/Nafion® ratios were produced in a thin-film casting process. Crack-free films were air-dried and plated by platinum (Pt) through an oxidation-reduction reaction. The produced hybrids were analyzed in terms of thermal stability, mechanical and morphological aspects to examine their performance compared to the Nafion-based IPMC prior to plating process. Results indicated that films with higher CNF loadings had improved tensile strengths and elastic moduli but reduced ductility. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) showed that the incorporation of CNF to the matrix reduced its thermal stability almost linearly, however, the onset of decomposition point remained above 120 C, which was far above the temperature the composite membrane is expected to be exposed to. The addition of a cross-linking agent to the formulations helped with maintaining the integrity of the membranes during the plating process, thereby improving surface conductivity. The focus of the current study was on the physical and morphological properties of the films, and the presented data advocate the potential utilization of CNF as a nontoxic and sustainable bio-polymer for blending with perfluorosulfonic acid-based co-polymers, such as Nafion®, to be used in electroactive membranes. 
    more » « less