Date of Award:
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Randolph V. Lewis
Randolph V. Lewis
Edmund Butch Bordy
Spider silk is a remarkable material that has recently garnered significant international interest due to its broad applicability and natural composition. Spider silk fibers demonstrate unparalleled mechanical properties and their biocompatability will allow them to replace products currently on the market such as fibers, threads and sutures that are made from traditional polymers. As spiders cannot be farmed, an emphasis in the Lewis lab is being placed on producing recombinant spider silk proteins (rSSP) in a variety of hosts, including alfalfa, goats, silkworms and Escherichia. coli. To this end, alfalfa, goats and silkworms are being generated with unique rSSP's that will improve the properties of the spun fiber as well as their recovery. A new fermentation facility is being constructed for the pilot-scale production of rSSP in E. coli. Novel plasmids and fermentation conditions are being developed to achieve maximum levels of production in this new facility. Recently, a new custom-engineered fiber spinning device was installed in the laboratory that allows for precise control of the process from any point during the fibers production. With this device, advancements in fiber formation were achieved with rSSP spun utilizing both 1,1,1,3,3,3-hexafluoroisopropanol (HFIP) dopes and a novel method of spinning rSSP's from primarily water-based solutions. Films from both HFIP and aqueous-based rSSP's were produced and a method for improving their mechanical properties was devised. Work has also begun on developing rSSP foams, hydrogels, lyogels and spray coatings.
Jones, Justin A., "Aqueous Solvation Method for Recombinant Spider Silk Proteins" (2015). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations, Spring 1920 to Summer 2023. 4267.
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