Silk-Based Hierarchical Materials for High Mechanical Performance at the Interface of Modeling, Synthesis, and Characterization

Anna Tarakanova, Davoud Ebrahimi, Zhao Qin, Markus J. Buehler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter


Silk is an exceptional emerging material for diverse applications in medicine, materials science, and engineering. In the natural world, many organisms, including silkworms and spiders, have developed glands to produce different types of silk for applications ranging from prey capture to protective shells. In the lab, synthetic silks have emerged with the development of recombinant synthesis techniques and microscale processing approaches. In recent years, the combination of experimental work and computational investigation has made great progress in characterizing and exploiting silk as a functional material for a myriad of applications. Silk can be characterized first as a sustainable material, as it is easily and controllably degradable. Moreover, it is biocompatible and biodegradable, finding many applications in medicine. Silk’s properties stem from the unique hierarchy in its structure and the specific cooperativity of these different layers of hierarchy. In this chapter, we will give an overview of silk’s unique hierarchical structure and resultant properties and provide case studies where a combination of modeling and experimental synthesis and characterization approaches have been used to study various features of silklike materials. In particular, we will discuss three case studies: (1) responsive chimera silk-elastin-like materials, (2) silk scaffolds for silk-mineralization, and (3) functional applications of regenerated silk for inkjet printing, and filtration membrane synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Materials Modeling
Subtitle of host publicationApplications: Current and Emerging Materials, Second Edition
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9783319446806
ISBN (Print)9783319446790
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Engineering
  • General Chemistry


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