Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Behind the Secrets of Silk Lie High-Tech Opportunities

Using biocompatible green processing, silk cocoons can yield a pure silk protein with numerous applications in fields such as medicine and electronics. The silk card above shows diffractive optics entirely constituted by pure silk obtained by pouring silk solution on nanopatterned molds and letting the solution dry and crystallize. The resulting film retains the pattern and is a free-standing optical component so flexible it can be rolled up. (Fiorenzo Omenetto/Tufts University)
Using biocompatible green processing, silk cocoons can yield a pure silk protein with numerous applications in fields such as medicine and electronics. The silk card above shows diffractive optics entirely constituted by pure silk obtained by pouring silk solution on nanopatterned molds and letting the solution dry and crystallize. The resulting film retains the pattern and is a free-standing optical component so flexible it can be rolled up. (Fiorenzo Omenetto/Tufts University)

Abstract:
A Decade of Research Yields New Uses for Ancient Material

Behind the Secrets of Silk Lie High-Tech Opportunities

Medford/Somerville, MA | Posted on July 31st, 2010

Tougher than a bullet-proof vest yet synonymous with beauty and luxury, silk fibers are a masterpiece of nature whose remarkable properties have yet to be fully replicated in the laboratory.

Thanks to their amazing mechanical properties as well as their looks, silk fibers have been important materials in textiles, medical sutures, and even armor for 5,000 years.

Silk spun by spiders and silk worms combines high strength and extensibility. This one-two punch is unmatched by synthetics, even though silk is made from a relatively simple protein processed from water.

But in recent years scientists have begun to unravel the secrets of silk.

In the July 30, 2010, issue of the journal Science, Tufts biomedical engineering researchers Fiorenzo Omenetto, Ph.D., and David Kaplan, Ph.D., report that "Silk-based materials have been transformed in just the past decade from the commodity textile world to a growing web of applications in more high technology directions."

Fundamental discoveries into how silk fibers are made have shown that chemistry, molecular biology and biophysics all play a role in the process. These discoveries have provided the basis for a new generation of applications for silk materials, from medical devices and drug delivery to electronics.

Edible Optics, Implantable Electronics

The Science paper notes that the development of silk hydrogels, films, fibers and sponges is making possible advances in photonics and optics, nanotechnology, electronics, adhesives and microfluidics, as well as engineering of bone and ligaments. Because silk fiber formation does not rely on complex or toxic chemistries, such materials are biologically and environmentally friendly, even able to integrate with living systems.

Down the silk road of the future, Kaplan and Omenetto believe applications could include degradable and flexible electronic displays for sensors that are biologically and environmentally compatible and implantable optical systems for diagnosis and treatment. Progress in "edible optics" and implantable electronics has already been demonstrated by Kaplan and Omenetto, John Rogers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and others.

Many challenges remain. Kaplan and Omenetto say that key questions include how to fully replicate native silk assembly in the lab, how best to mimic silk protein sequences via genetic engineering to scale-up materials production, and how to use silk as a model polymer to spur new synthetic polymer designs that mimic natural silk's green chemistry.

Techniques for reprocessing natural silk protein in the lab continue to advance. Silks are also being cloned and expressed in a variety of hosts, including E. coli bacteria, fungi, plants and mammals, and through transgenic silkworms.

One day, efficient transgenic plants could be used to crop silk in much the same way that cotton is harvested today, the Tufts researchers note in their paper. In some regions, silk production might create a new microeconomy, as demand grows and production techniques improve.

"Based on the recent and rapid progression of silk materials from the ancient textile use into a host of new high-technology applications, we anticipate growth in the use of silks in a wide platform of applications will continue as answers to these remaining questions are obtained," say Omenetto and Kaplan.

Kaplan is chair of the Biomedical Engineering Department at Tufts School of Engineering and the Stern Family Professor in Engineering. He also directs the NIH Tissue Engineering Resource Center that involves Tufts and Columbia University. His work lies at the interface between biology and materials science and engineering, and he has been studying novel biomaterials, many of them silk-based, for 30 years. Professor of Biomedical Engineering Fiorenzo Omenetto is a frequent collaborator with Kaplan who has pioneered silk optics and use of silk as a green material for photonics and other high tech applications.

Support for this research on silk comes from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Science Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

####

About Tufts University
Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Kim Thurler
617-627-3175

Copyright © Tufts University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

Russian scientists create new system of concrete building structures: Sientists of Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University developed a new construction technology April 24th, 2017

NanoMONITOR shares its latest developments concerning the NanoMONITOR Software and the Monitoring stations April 21st, 2017

Nanomechanics, Inc. Unveils New Product at ICMCTF Show April 25th: Nanoindentation experts will launch the new Gemini that measures the interaction of two objects that are sliding across each other – not merely making contact April 21st, 2017

Microfluidics/Nanofluidics

Nano-SPEARs gently measure electrical signals in small animals: Rice University's tiny needles simplify data gathering to probe diseases, test drugs April 17th, 2017

Particle Works creates range of high performance quantum dots February 23rd, 2017

Display technology/LEDs/SS Lighting/OLEDs

New ultrafast flexible and transparent memory devices could herald new era of electronics April 1st, 2017

UC researchers use gold coating to control luminescence of nanowires: University of Cincinnati physicists manipulate nanowire semiconductors in pursuit of making electronics smaller, faster and cheaper March 17th, 2017

Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance: Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs March 10th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

NanoMONITOR shares its latest developments concerning the NanoMONITOR Software and the Monitoring stations April 21st, 2017

Better living through pressure: Functional nanomaterials made easy April 19th, 2017

Nano-SPEARs gently measure electrical signals in small animals: Rice University's tiny needles simplify data gathering to probe diseases, test drugs April 17th, 2017

Possible Futures

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

Russian scientists create new system of concrete building structures: Sientists of Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University developed a new construction technology April 24th, 2017

Two-dimensional melting of hard spheres experimentally unravelled after 60 years: First definitive experimental evidence of two-dimensional melting of hard spheres April 21st, 2017

Rice crew revved for Nanocar Race: Nanocar creator James Tour and team take on international competition with single-molecule marvel April 20th, 2017

Academic/Education

SUNY Polytechnic Institute Announces Total of 172 Teams Selected to Compete in Solar in Your Community Challenge: Teams from 40 states, plus Washington, DC, 2 Territories, and 4 American Indian Reservations, Will Deploy Solar in Underserved Communities April 20th, 2017

Rice crew revved for Nanocar Race: Nanocar creator James Tour and team take on international competition with single-molecule marvel April 20th, 2017

The Catholic University of Rome uses the JPK NanoWizard® AFM & CellHesion® systems to understand how cells sense and respond to mechanical stimuli April 5th, 2017

AIM Photonics Welcomes Coventor as Newest Member: US-Backed Initiative Taps Process Modeling Specialist to Enable Manufacturing of High-Yield, High-Performance Integrated Photonic Designs March 16th, 2017

Chip Technology

'Neuron-reading' nanowires could accelerate development of drugs for neurological diseases April 12th, 2017

Nanometrics to Announce First Quarter Financial Results on May 2, 2017 April 11th, 2017

AIM Photonics Presents Cutting-Edge Integrated Photonics Technology Developments to Packed House at OFC 2017, the Optical Networking and Communication Conference & Exhibition April 11th, 2017

Photonics breakthough paving the way for improved wireless communication systems: The work could bolster the wireless revolution underway with efficiencies several orders of magnitude April 5th, 2017

Nanomedicine

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

Arrowhead Presents ARC-520 and ARC-521 Clinical Data at The International Liver Congress(TM) April 20th, 2017

Nano-SPEARs gently measure electrical signals in small animals: Rice University's tiny needles simplify data gathering to probe diseases, test drugs April 17th, 2017

Nanotubes that build themselves April 14th, 2017

Sensors

Better living through pressure: Functional nanomaterials made easy April 19th, 2017

A Sensitive And Dynamic Tactile Sensor Read more from Asian Scientist Magazine at: https://www.asianscientist.com/2017/04/tech/tactile-3d-active-matrix-sensor/ April 18th, 2017

AIM Photonics Presents Cutting-Edge Integrated Photonics Technology Developments to Packed House at OFC 2017, the Optical Networking and Communication Conference & Exhibition April 11th, 2017

New technology could offer cheaper, faster food testing: Specialized droplets interact with bacteria and can be analyzed using a smartphone April 7th, 2017

Nanoelectronics

Researchers “iron out” graphene’s wrinkles: New technique produces highly conductive graphene wafers April 3rd, 2017

A big leap toward tinier lines: Self-assembly technique could lead to long-awaited, simple method for making smaller microchip patterns March 27th, 2017

Scientists discover new 'boat' form of promising semiconductor: GeSe Uncommon form attenuates semiconductor's band gap size March 23rd, 2017

UC researchers use gold coating to control luminescence of nanowires: University of Cincinnati physicists manipulate nanowire semiconductors in pursuit of making electronics smaller, faster and cheaper March 17th, 2017

Discoveries

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

Russian scientists create new system of concrete building structures: Sientists of Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University developed a new construction technology April 24th, 2017

Two-dimensional melting of hard spheres experimentally unravelled after 60 years: First definitive experimental evidence of two-dimensional melting of hard spheres April 21st, 2017

Wood filter removes toxic dye from water April 21st, 2017

Announcements

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

Russian scientists create new system of concrete building structures: Sientists of Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University developed a new construction technology April 24th, 2017

NanoMONITOR shares its latest developments concerning the NanoMONITOR Software and the Monitoring stations April 21st, 2017

Nanomechanics, Inc. Unveils New Product at ICMCTF Show April 25th: Nanoindentation experts will launch the new Gemini that measures the interaction of two objects that are sliding across each other – not merely making contact April 21st, 2017

Environment

NanoMONITOR shares its latest developments concerning the NanoMONITOR Software and the Monitoring stations April 21st, 2017

Wood filter removes toxic dye from water April 21st, 2017

Making Batteries From Waste Glass Bottles: UCR researchers are turning glass bottles into high performance lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and personal electronics April 19th, 2017

Shedding light on the absorption of light by titanium dioxide April 14th, 2017

Nanobiotechnology

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

Arrowhead Presents ARC-520 and ARC-521 Clinical Data at The International Liver Congress(TM) April 20th, 2017

Nano-SPEARs gently measure electrical signals in small animals: Rice University's tiny needles simplify data gathering to probe diseases, test drugs April 17th, 2017

Nanotubes that build themselves April 14th, 2017

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Method improves semiconductor fiber optics, paves way for developing devices April 16th, 2017

AIM Photonics Presents Cutting-Edge Integrated Photonics Technology Developments to Packed House at OFC 2017, the Optical Networking and Communication Conference & Exhibition April 11th, 2017

Photonics breakthough paving the way for improved wireless communication systems: The work could bolster the wireless revolution underway with efficiencies several orders of magnitude April 5th, 2017

Controlling forces between atoms, molecules, promising for ‘2-D hyperbolic’ materials April 4th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project