Silk offers an attractive combination of strength and toughness coupled with environmentally benign processing and degradation. However, we lack key insights into the interactions between a silk s mechanical behaviour, its chemical composition and its fabrication processes. Hence practically, this ignorance impedes the development of synthetic and recombinant silks. More fundamentally, silks can provide us with novel insights into other elastomeric natural protein polymers. Hence natural silk technology provides important insights both for the production of industrial bio-polymers and for understanding/copying other biological materials. I propose an extensive bio-mimetic programme to study silk diversity in order to gain new insights into the fundamentals of silk structure-property-functions relationships. WP Biomining will discover and screen silks with interesting material properties and gene-sequences with the proximate goal to discover novel silk types and the ultimate goal to identify silks suitable for commercial production. WP Material Analysis will focus on the acquisition of detailed data on silk material and chemical properties and will be using state-of-the-art measuring techniques. WP Multiscale Modeling is integral to the experimental programme in order to maximise all information obtained and optimise test conditions in order to fully derive and validate structure-property relations using our novel analysis techniques. Finally, WP Applications will disseminate our findings to colleagues in academia and companies throughout Europe. The proposed research will allow us to derive and validate a consistent set of quantitative structure-property relations for silk , which consider the evolutionary history of the different silks and their highly diverse genetic blueprints. This in turn will allow us to predict the mechanical properties of any silk at any stage during its natural and/or biomimetic production process.
Field of science
- /natural sciences/chemical sciences/polymer science
- /humanities/history and archaeology/history
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