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Scalable Spider-Silk-Like Supertough Fibers With Potential In Defense

Activity: Talk/lecture or presentationTalk/lecture

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Spiders silks have extraordinary strength and toughness simultaneously, thus has become dreamed materials by
scientists and industries. Although there have been tremendous attempts to prepare fibers from genetically manufacture
spider silk proteins, however, it has been still a huge challenge to artificially make a material with such high
performance, do not mentioning the scaling-up because of extremely low productivity and high cost. Here, a facile
spider-silk-mimicking strategy is firstly reported for preparing a scalable supertough fiber from chemical synthesis
route. Supertoughness (~387 MJ m-3) is achieved by introducing β-sheet crystals and α-helical peptides simultaneously
in a pseudoprotein polymer. The toughness of this fiber is more than twice the reported value of a normal spider
dragline silk, and comparable with the toughest spider silk, aciniform silk of Argiope trifasciata.
High-performance fibers, such as glass fiber, Kevlar fiber, carbon fiber as well as spectra fiber, have been used in
defense area. For example, Kevlar fiber were chosen to make ballistic armor (Kevlar vest) because of its excellent
stress, toughness and relatively light weight. As the most resilient protein fiber in nature, the tensile-strength of spider
dragline-silk can be in the GPa range, and its toughness can reach 180 MJ m-3, which is two to three times that
of man-made fibers like Kevlar or Nylon (Ebrahimi 2015, Du 2006). Consequently, spider silk is the most desirable
materials for high-performance applications like space-suits, bullet proof, balloon-parachutes, medical-devices and
specialty-ropes. Tremendous worldwide efforts have been made particularly in genetic-engineering spider-silk-proteins
(Heim 2009, Fink 2018), but it is still a huge challenge to scale-up due to its low-efficiency, high-cost and uncontrollable-
quality. Furthermore, the mechanical properties of reconstituted spidroin fibers were not comparable to
those of natural spider silks because of molecular-weight limitation and self-assembling difficulties. Here, a simple
strategy that replicates spider silk is reported for preparing scalable supertough fibers through chemical synthesis.
High-performance pseudoprotein polymers for fibers which contained α-helix and nanosized-β-sheet formed from an
amine-terminated peptide poly(γ-benzyl-L-glutamate (PBLG) are connected by a small diamine and further linked to
a random-coil-like-chain of spider-silk-proteins using urea linkage.The tensile test results of the chemically synthetic
fibers showed that the pseudoprotein fibers have excellent mechanical properties. Particularly, Fiber P2 has a tensile
strength of ~100 MPa, an elongation at break of ~750% and thus a toughness of 387 MJ m-3, which is more than
twice the toughness of spider dragline silk (~160 MJ m-3) and comparable to that of the toughest spider silk—the
aciniform silk of Argiope trifasciata (~320 MJ m-3).

Research Unit / Event Journal/Book Series


Title2nd World Confernece on Advanced Materials for Defense, AuxDefense2020