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Open AccessArticle

The Rheology behind Stress-Induced Solidification in Native Silk Feedstocks

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, The University of Sheffield, Sir Robert Hadfield Building, Mappin Street, Sheffield S1 3JD, UK
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Nicola Pugno
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17(11), 1812;
Received: 31 August 2016 / Revised: 21 October 2016 / Accepted: 25 October 2016 / Published: 29 October 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Silk-Based Materials: From Production to Characterization)
The mechanism by which native silk feedstocks are converted to solid fibres in nature has attracted much interest. To address this question, the present work used rheology to investigate the gelation of Bombyx mori native silk feedstock. Exceeding a critical shear stress appeared to be more important than shear rate, during flow-induced initiation. Compositional changes (salts, pH etc.,) were not required, although their possible role in vivo is not excluded. Moreover, after successful initiation, gel strength continued to increase over a considerable time under effectively quiescent conditions, without requiring further application of the initial stimulus. Gelation by elevated temperature or freezing was also observed. Prior to gelation, literature suggests that silk protein adopts a random coil configuration, which argued against the conventional explanation of gelation, based on hydrophilic and hydrophobic interactions. Instead, a new hypothesis is presented, based on entropically-driven loss of hydration, which appears to explain the apparently diverse methods by which silk feedstocks can be gelled. View Full-Text
Keywords: native silk feedstock; rheology; flow-induced phase change; thermally-induced phase change native silk feedstock; rheology; flow-induced phase change; thermally-induced phase change
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MDPI and ACS Style

Laity, P.R.; Holland, C. The Rheology behind Stress-Induced Solidification in Native Silk Feedstocks. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17, 1812.

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