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Growing silk fibroin in advanced materials for food security


This perspective provides an overview of the micro-/nanofabrication methods developed for structural biopolymers, highlighting recent advances in the rapid and ease construction of complex and multifunctional silk fibroin-based devices by integrating top-down manufacturing with bottom-up molecular self-assembly. Of particular interest is the development of a new nanofabrication strategy that employs templated crystallization to direct silk fibroin folding and assembly from a suspension of disordered, random coil molecules to ordered, hierarchical mesostructured materials. Such advancements in structural biopolymers fabrication provide the basis for engineering a new generation of technical materials that can be interfaced with food and plants.

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(a), (h) Adapted with permission from Ref. 76, copyright 2020, Springer Nature. (b)–(g), (i)–(n) Reproduced with permission from Ref. 76, copyright 2020, Springer Nature.

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This work was supported by the Office of Naval Research (Award No. N000141812258) and the National Science Foundation (Award No. CMMI‐1752172).

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Correspondence to Benedetto Marelli.

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BM is co-founder of a company, Mori Inc., that uses silk fibroin-based materials as edible food coatings to increase the shelf-life of perishable food. The use of silk fibroin as an edible coating, seed coating, and to fabricate microneedles for drug delivery in plants is protected by multiple IP positions where BM is listed as a co-inventor.

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Sun, H., Marelli, B. Growing silk fibroin in advanced materials for food security. MRS Communications 11, 31–45 (2021).

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