Paper: Nanofibrils as Building Blocks of Silk Fibers: Critical Review of the Experimental Evidence

Jan 31, 2019 — By Qijue Wang
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The protein nanofibrils in natural silk fibers have long fascinated the silk research community. Many theoretical structure models for spider and silkworm silk fibers that are based on nanofibrils have been widely promoted. However, the available experimental evidence for such fibrillar structure in natural silk fibers is limited. Our recent review paper took a closer look at the experimental evidence obtained from various spider and silkworm silk fibers. Results acquired using “real-space“ imaging methods, including atomic force microscopy, electron microscopy, and optical microscopy, as well as “inverse-space” scattering techniques, including X-ray scattering, neutron scattering, and electron scattering, are reviewed. These results are further organized by various spider and silkworm species, to better reveal animal-related differences. We found many fundamental questions about nanofibrils, including their morphology, mechanical properties, and volumetric percentage in the silk fiber, are still largely unknown. Future works that answer these questions will greatly move the silk field forward.

This paper has been published in the journal JOM (2018 impact factor: 2.145).


Q. Wang, H. C. Schniepp*
“Nanofibrils as Building Blocks of Silk Fibers: Critical Review of the Experimental Evidence”
JOM 1-16 (2019)

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DOI: 10.1007/s11837-019-03340-y
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