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Polymers 2018, 10(11), 1214;

Natural Silkworm Cocoon Composites with High Strength and Stiffness Constructed in Confined Cocooning Space

State Key Laboratory of Silkworm Genome Biology, Key Laboratory of Sericultural Biology and Genetic Breeding, Ministry of Agriculture, College of Biotechnology, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
Chongqing Engineering Research Center of Biomaterial Fiber and Modern Textile, College of Textile and Garment, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
Institute of Biomechanics and Medical Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 October 2018 / Revised: 27 October 2018 / Accepted: 29 October 2018 / Published: 31 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio-Based Polymers for Engineered Green Materials)
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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. View Full-Text
Keywords: silkworm cocoons; dense structure; porosity; robust fiber network; mechanical properties silkworm cocoons; dense structure; porosity; robust fiber network; mechanical properties

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Cheng, L.; Tong, X.; Li, Z.; Liu, Z.; Huang, H.; Zhao, H.; Dai, F. Natural Silkworm Cocoon Composites with High Strength and Stiffness Constructed in Confined Cocooning Space. Polymers 2018, 10, 1214.

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