Properties of Engineered and Fabricated Silks

Part of the Subcellular Biochemistry book series (SCBI, volume 82)


Silk is a protein-based material which is predominantly produced by insects and spiders. Hundreds of millions of years of evolution have enabled these animals to utilize different, highly adapted silk types in a broad variety of applications. Silk occurs in several morphologies, such as sticky glue or in the shape of fibers and can, depending on the application by the respective animal, dissipate a high mechanical energy, resist heat and radiation, maintain functionality when submerged in water and withstand microbial settling. Hence, it’s unsurprising that silk piqued human interest a long time ago, which catalyzed the domestication of silkworms for the production of silk to be used in textiles. Recently, scientific progress has enabled the development of analytic tools to gain profound insights into the characteristics of silk proteins. Based on these investigations, the biotechnological production of artificial and engineered silk has been accomplished, which allows the production of a sufficient amount of silk materials for several industrial applications. This chapter provides a review on the biotechnological production of various silk proteins from different species, as well as on the processing techniques to fabricate application-oriented material morphologies.


Silk fibers Artificial silk Recombinant silk Engineered silk Silk processing 



This work was financially supported by DFG grant SFB 840 TP A8 as well as the Technologie Allianz Oberfranken (TAO).


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Group Biopolymer ProcessingUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  2. 2.Department of BiomaterialsUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany

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