Date Thesis Awarded

4-2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)

Department

Applied Science

Advisor

Hannes C. Schniepp

Committee Members

Margaret S. Saha

Christopher A. Del Negro

Abstract

Natural spider silk has remarkable mechanical and adhesive properties. Its high strength and extensibility allow for many advanced engineering applications. Given the spider’s hostile and territorial nature, it is hard to mass-produce natural fibers, so there is an investment in research to study the self-assembly of dragline silk proteins to ultimately produce artificial fibers. However, the complete hierarchical protein structure and self-assembly of silk, which determines the filament’s properties, is currently not fully understood. Thus, there are limitations in synthesizing artificial fibers that have the strength and toughness comparable to natural silk. The project focused on examining the structure and self-assembly of nanofibrils in spider silk, which have been determined to provide significant information toward the synthesis of high-quality silk-inspired materials. We measured the diameters and heights of silk samples from Nephila Clavipes spiders. We also tested and compared the effects of shear forces and protein concentrations on nanofibrils’ self-assembly.

Available for download on Saturday, May 07, 2022

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