Spinning of Fibers from Aqueous Solutions
Final rept. Oct 2000-Sep 2002
ARMY SOLDIER AND BIOLOGICAL CHEMICAL COMMAND NATICK MA SOLDIER SYSTEMS CENTER
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Previous funding supporting this research focused primarily on development of the aqueous-based method for processing silk into spin solutions. Much of this effort consisted of production of recombinant silk protein in bacterial and yeast expression systems. In spite of the small quantities produced and silk solubility problems, a method for spinning silk fibers under aqueous conditions was developed. However, these fibers were of poor quality and could not be characterized by mechanical tensile testing. Orientation of the protein along the fiber axis was observed by polarizing light microscopy. This was only qualitative, however, and quantitative measurement e.g., mechanical testing was needed for fiber evaluation. Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, larger quantities of recombinant silk protein provided by Nexia Biotechnologies were processed for fiber spinning. Spin solutions with protein concentrations as high as 28 were achieved and spun into fibers with measurable mechanical properties similar to natural spider silk. The larger quantities of silk allowed for the examination of the parameters in spin dope preparation, fiber spinning and post spinning treatment to begin to be explored.