Journal article

Spider-silk inspired polymeric networks by harnessing the mechanical potential of β-sheets through network guided assembly.

Nicholas Jun-An Chan, Dunyin Gu, Shereen Tan, Qiang Fu, Thomas Geoffrey Pattison, Andrea J O'Connor, Greg G Qiao

Nature Communications | Springer Nature | Published : 2020


The high toughness of natural spider-silk is attributed to their unique β-sheet secondary structures. However, the preparation of mechanically strong β-sheet rich materials remains a significant challenge due to challenges involved in processing the polymers/proteins, and managing the assembly of the hydrophobic residues. Inspired by spider-silk, our approach effectively utilizes the superior mechanical toughness and stability afforded by localised β-sheet domains within an amorphous network. Using a grafting-from polymerisation approach within an amorphous hydrophilic network allows for spatially controlled growth of poly(valine) and poly(valine-r-glycine) as β-sheet forming polypeptides vi..

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Funding Acknowledgements

This work was performed in part at the Materials Characterization and Fabrication Platform (MCFP) at the University of Melbourne. N.J.C thanks The University of Melbourne for providing Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship (AGRTP). D.G. thanks The University of Melbourne for providing Melbourne International Research Scholarships (MIRS). The authors would also like to thank Dr. Ke Xie and Mr. Min Liu for assistance with SEM measurements. We are also grateful to the Particulate Fluids Processing Centre (PFPC) for infrastructure support.