Date of Award:

Spring 2014

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Biological and Irrigation Engineering

Advisor/Chair:

Randolph V. Lewis

Abstract

In this project, we focus on developing a method to produce synthetic spider silk thin films. Using these films we optimized mechanical properties, lowered cost, and improved the environmental impact using different processing methods. Applications for spider silk films are broad, ranging from physical protection to biocompatible materials. This project was designed to improve mechanical properties and production methods of films made from synthetic forms of MaSp1 and MaSp2 from the dragline silk of Nephila clavipes. We have increased the mechanical stress (200 MPa) to more than 4 times that of similar products with elongations as high as 35%. The films have also been analyzed using NMR, XRD, and AFM or SEM showing that the secondary structure in as-poured films is mainly alpha-helical and after processing this structure turns to an aligned betasheet formation similar to that in spider silk fibers.