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Combining Living Microorganisms with Regenerated Silk Provides Nanofibril-Based Thin Films with Heat-Responsive Wrinkled States for Smart Food Packaging

Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile e Ambientale, Università di Perugia, UdR INSTM, Strada di Pentima 4, 05100 Terni, Italy
Laboratory of Bio-Inspired and Graphene Nanomechanics, Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering, University of Trento, I-38123 Trento, Italy
School of Engineering and Materials Science, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK
Ket-Lab, Edoardo Amaldi Foundation, Italian Space Agency, via del Politecnico snc, I-00133 Roma, Italy
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nanomaterials 2018, 8(7), 518;
Received: 19 June 2018 / Revised: 9 July 2018 / Accepted: 10 July 2018 / Published: 11 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanics, Electrical and Optical Properties of Nano-Thin Films)
Regenerated silk (RS) is a protein-based “biopolymer” that enables the design of new materials; here, we called “bionic” the process of regenerated silk production by a fermentation-assisted method. Based on yeast’s fermentation, here we produced a living hybrid composite made of regenerated silk nanofibrils and a single-cell fungi, the Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast extract, by fermentation of such microorganisms at room temperature in a dissolution bath of silkworm silk fibers. The fermentation-based processing enhances the beta-sheet content of the RS, corresponding to a reduction in water permeability and CO2 diffusion through RS/yeast thin films enabling the fabrication of a mechanically robust film that enhances food storage durability. Finally, a transfer print method, which consists of transferring RS and RS/yeast film layers onto a self-adherent paraffin substrate, was used for the realization of heat-responsive wrinkles by exploiting the high thermal expansion of the paraffin substrate that regulates the applied strain, resulting in a switchable coating morphology from the wrinkle-free state to a wrinkled state if the food temperature overcomes a designed threshold. We envision that such efficient and smart coatings can be applied for the realization of smart packaging that, through such a temperature-sensing mechanism, can be used to control food storage conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: bionic composites; thin films; mechanical properties bionic composites; thin films; mechanical properties
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Valentini, L.; Bittolo Bon, S.; Pugno, N.M. Combining Living Microorganisms with Regenerated Silk Provides Nanofibril-Based Thin Films with Heat-Responsive Wrinkled States for Smart Food Packaging. Nanomaterials 2018, 8, 518.

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