Engineers Create Programmable Silk Materials With Pre-designed Functions

Posted: Dec 27 2016, 8:54am CST | by , Updated: Dec 27 2016, 8:57am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Engineers Create Programmable Silk Materials with Pre-designed Functions
This image shows examples of engineered 3-D silk constructs. Credit: Silklab, Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering, Tufts University
  • Engineering Science has Novel Silk-Based Substances with Advanced Designs and Functions
 

Engineering science finally has some novel silk-based substances with advanced designs and functions.

The process is such that it allows the creation of mechanical parts that have a function. Engineers have managed to make solids from silk proteins. These are preprogrammed to possess biological, chemical or optical functions.

They go on to form stuff that changes color with strain, administers drugs or reacts to light. The paper on this was published in a science journal. The whole scheme was a water-based system of fabrication. 

It was a case of protein self-assembly. The experts created 3D materials from silk fibroin. This is the protein that lends silk fiber its strength and tenacity.

Next step was manipulating and handling the materials with water molecules. This led to the creation of many solid forms. From nanoscale to microscale, they all have built-in design and function. The experts made a surgical pin that changed its hue in accordance with its limits.

A silk fibroin pin changes color from blue to red when the force applied reaches the material’s yield point. Source: Silk Lab

They also made functional screws that can be heated on demand as a reaction to infrared light. Finally, a bio-compatible agent was also created.  This released bioactive agents such as enzymes. 

Some more applications could include orthopedic stuff with built-in growth agents or enzymes, a surgery screw that changes colors as it reached torque limits, nuts and bolts that are responsive to the environment and domestic things that can be shaped in accordance with the heart’s desire.

Silk is such a material that it is extraordinarily solid in its consistency. Fibroin which is found in silk is bio-compatible and biodegradable while taking on the shape of the foreign material and securing it. The biogenesis of such materials that show intelligence is something which is on the cutting edge of science and technology.  

The findings of this study published in an online paper this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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