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Title: Final Technical Report

Spider silks have the potential to provide new bio-inspired materials for numerous applications in bioenergetics and products ranging from protective clothing to artificial ligaments and tendons. A number of spider silk genes have been cloned and sequenced by the Lewis laboratory revealing the basis for understanding the key elements of spider silk proteins with respect to their materials performance. In particular, specific amino acid motifs have been identified which have been conserved for over 125 million years in all spiders that use their silk to physically trap prey. The key element in taking the next step toward generating bio-based materials from spider silks will be to move from the current descriptive data to predictive knowledge. Current efforts are focused on mimicking spider silk through synthetic proteins. In developing synthetic silk fibers, we first need to understand the complete secondary and tertiary structure of natural silk so that we can compare synthetic constructs to the natural material. Being able to compare the structure on a single fiber level is critical to the future of molecular directed mimic development because we can vary mechanical properties by different spinning methods. The new generation of synchrotron x-ray diffraction and neutron beamlines will allow, formore » the first time, determination of the molecular structure of silk fibers and synthetic mimics. We propose an exciting new collaborative research team working jointly between Argonne National Laboratory, Arizona State U. and the University of Wyoming to address the ?characterization of synthetic and natural spider silk fibers using x-ray and neutron diffraction.? Thus these new methodologies will provide understanding of current fibers and determine changes needed to produce fibers with specific properties. The following specific aims are proposed: ? Synthesize spider silk fibers with molecular structures mimicking that of natural silks. Test the mechanic properties of these materials and compare them to natural silk fibers. ? Develop x-ray and neutron diffraction techniques to better determine the structure in amorphous and semicrystalline biopolymers, such as spider silk fibers. ? Combine mechanical testing and structural x-ray and neutron diffraction data to develop a molecular understanding of the structure-function relationship in spider silk materials. ? Elucidate the role water plays in spider silk fiber formation and structure. Emphasis will be placed on combined neutron and NMR studies. ? Use solid-state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) to characterize synthetic and natural spider silk materials that show potential as a biomimetic material or bio-inspired polymer architecture. ? Develop EPSCoR student and postdoctoral training and exposure to national laboratory facilities. ? Further develop scientific outreach and chemical education programs and research.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Utah State University
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Contributing Orgs:
Arizona State University, Argonne National Laboratory, University of Wyoming
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE spider silk, proteins, X-ray Diffraction