Synthetic Spider Silk Adhesives

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

USU Student Showcase

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Faculty Mentor

Randy Lewis


Bio-adhesives are a promising material, as they have a low immunity response and are biodegradable. These adhesives have many applications, including medical emergency responses in military and civilian situations. Spider silk is an excellent material with many applications because of its exceptional mechanical properties and biocompatibility. Because natural spider silk is difficult to acquire, synthetic spider silk protein can be produced by processing transgenic goat milk. This synthetic spider silk can be used in many forms including fibers, films, and adhesives. The primary goal of this research project is to develop reliable testing methods using plastic substrates, and discover the best treatments and dope formulations of water-based synthetic spider silk adhesives for biomedical applications and as an underwater industrial glue. With consistent testing methods established, other parameters related to adhesive treatment can be explored. To establish a baseline, synthetic spider silk adhesives were compared to common adhesives available. Results from preliminary tests, collected from simple lap shear testing, showed that adhesive solutions containing higher concentrations of spider silk had higher peak break loads and stress/strain relationships. Future work on this project will include using a combination of two synthetic dragline spider silk and eventually a synthetic version of the glue that the spider produces naturally. Adhesive applications on different materials, particularly tissues, will also be explored.

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