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Dual-Crystallizable Silk Fibroin/Poly(L-lactic Acid) Biocomposite Films: Effect of Polymer Phases on Protein Structures in Protein-Polymer BlendsBiopolymer 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 intomore »
Exploring the Structural Transformation Mechanism of Chinese and Thailand Silk Fibroin Fibers and Formic-Acid Fabricated Silk FilmsSilk 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 facilitatemore »