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Spider Silk Spun and Integrated into Composites

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Final rept. 1 Feb 2006-30 Nov 2008

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We gained significant new insights into the role of hydration for silks with our data allowing us to model in considerable detail the interaction between silk molecules and water. Our fibre and feedstock experiments demonstrated that the hierachical morphology in the patterning and mesophase assembly is spatially optimised. Our multiscale model, based on experimental data collected iteratively and focussing on the control of energy storage strength and dissipation toughness at the molecular level and the distribution and exchange of energy at the nanoscale allows us to predict the full stress-strain profile to failure of any silk or silk-like material. In our investigations of silk composites we gained novel insights into the structure and functionality of natural silk composites as well as the integration of native silks with synthetic resins. In summary of the composite work packages I conclude that the Bombyx cocoon as given some interesting insights but that the Gonometa cocoon and others like it seems poised to provide some truly novel insights. Moreover, the comparison of these cocoons with spider cocoons and webs will lead to a much better understanding not only of natural composites but also about the evolution and constraints on the silk materials themselves.

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  • Biology
  • Properties of Metals and Alloys

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