Natural Materials Group

Research

 

What is silk?

Silks are structural proteins that have evolved independently many times in spiders, silkworms and even shrimps.

Silks, by definition, are spun. In many ways silk spinning has more in common with industrial polymer processing; however there is one key difference, environmental impact.

Silk is a high performance, biodegradable biopolymer spun at room temperature, with the only waste product being water.

Silk’s desirable properties originate from the self-assembly of a multiscale hierarchical structure produced during spinning, but little is known regarding the conditions and mechanisms by which this is achieved.

We are interested in understanding how silk is spun which we hope will unlock many of the secrets of this ancient material and provide insights from protein folding to novel material design.

Facilities

Our lab brings together a wide range of analytical techniques that enable us to probe a natural material’s response to a variety of controlled stress fields, including chemical, thermal and mechanical.

Investigating how natural materials respond provides us with insight into how evolution has optimised certain material properties in order to solve biologically relevant challenges (i.e. low energy spinning, high toughness fibres) which we can use as inspiration for our own.

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Equipment

Bohlin Gemini

Rheometer

AR2000 - Linus

Rheometer

AR2000 - Douglas

Rheometer

Nicolai 380 FTIR

FTIR spectrometer with ATR crystal

4 way extension cord

Allows us to turn a single mains socket into 4.

Coffee machine

Provides essential fuel for the group.

Projects

 

CURRENT PROJECTS

 

Details of our current projects are coming soon.

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PREVIOUS PROJECTS

 

Details of our previous projects will be available soon.

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Natural Materials Group