In this study, using round paper tubes (PTs) and rectangular cardboard boxes (CBs) as external constraints to control the size of the cocooning space, we fabricated a series of modified silkworm cocoons (PT cocoons and CB cocoons). Their microstructures, morphologies, compositions, and mechanical properties were characterized and compared with normal silkworm cocoons. These two kinds of modified silkworm cocoons exhibit dense and homogeneous layer structures. Tensile test results indicate that above a size limit of cocooning space, their tensile strengths, Young’s moduli, and strain energy densities increase with the decrease in cocooning space. Especially in comparison with the normal cocoons, the tensile strength and Young’s modulus of the PT-14 cocoon increase by 44% and 100%, respectively. Meanwhile, PT cocoons and CB cocoons, except PT-12, also possess better peeling resistance than normal cocoons. Owing to the dense structure and low porosity, the modified cocoons form robust fiber networks that result in high strength and toughness. This study provides a green and efficient method to fabricate mechanically enhanced silkworm cocoons with special shapes and dense layer structures. The method can be easily subjected to further modification processes and has potential applications in the production of high-performance green cocoon composites and biomimetic materials.
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