Processing methods to control silk fibroin film biomaterial features
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- Lawrence, B.D., Omenetto, F., Chui, K. et al. J Mater Sci (2008) 43: 6967. doi:10.1007/s10853-008-2961-y
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Control of silk structural and morphological features is reported for fibroin protein films via all aqueous processing, with and without polyethylene oxide (PEO). Silk films with thicknesses from 500 nm to 50 μm were generated with controllable surface morphologies by employing soft-lithography surface patterning or by adjusting PEO concentrations. FTIR analysis indicated that water-annealing, used to cure or set the films, resulted in increased β-sheet and α-helix content within the films. Steam sterilization provided an additional control point by increasing β-sheet content, while reducing random coil and turn structures, yet retaining film transparency and material integrity. Increased PEO concentration used during processing resulted in decreased sizes of surface globule structures, while simultaneously increasing uniformity of these features. The above results indicate that both surface and bulk morphologies and structures can be controlled by adjusting PEO concentration. The combined tool set for controlling silk film geometry and structure provides a foundation for further study of novel silk film biomaterial systems. These silk film biomaterials have potential applicability for a variety of optical and regenerative medicine applications due to their optical clarity, impressive mechanical properties, slow degradability, and biocompatibility.