Biomimetic composites with enhanced toughening using silk-inspired triblock proteins and aligned nanocellulose reinforcements

Pezhman Mohammadi (Corresponding Author), Sesilja A. Aranko, Christopher P. Landowski, Olli Ikkala, Kristaps Jaudzems, Wolfgang Wagermaier, Markus B. Linder

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Silk and cellulose are biopolymers that show strong potential as future sustainable materials. They also have complementary properties, suitable for combination in composite materials where cellulose would form the reinforcing component and silk the tough matrix. A major challenge concerns balancing structure and functional properties in the assembly process. We used recombinant proteins with triblock architecture, combining structurally modified spider silk with terminal cellulose affinity modules. Flow alignment of cellulose nanofibrils and triblock protein allowed continuous fiber production. Protein assembly involved phase separation into concentrated coacervates, with subsequent conformational switching from disordered structures into β sheets. This process gave the matrix a tough adhesiveness, forming a new composite material with high strength and stiffness combined with increased toughness. We show that versatile design possibilities in protein engineering enable new fully biological materials and emphasize the key role of controlled assembly at multiple length scales for realization.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbereaaw2541
    JournalScience advances
    Volume5
    Issue number9
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Sep 2019
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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