Comparing the properties of Bombyx mori silk cocoons against sericin-fibroin regummed biocomposite sheets

Alexander Morin, Parvez Alam

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper considers the utility of sericin, a degumming waste product, in the regumming of Bombyx mori silk fibroin fibres to form sericin-fibroin biocomposites. Regummed biocomposites have a chemical character that is somewhat closer to fibroin than sericin, though sericin presence is confirmed through FT-IR spectroscopy. Using direct measurements we further find the weight fractions of sericin in the regummed biocomposites and the native cocoons differ by only 5%. Mechanically, B. mori   cocoons exhibit brittle stress-strain characteristics, failing at strengths of X̅= 16.6 MPa and at strains of X̅= 13%. Contrarily, aligning fibroin fibres to a unidirectional axis in the regummed biocomposites causes them to exhibit characteristics of strain hardening, which is itself a typical characteristic of silk fibre pulled in tension. Though they are half as strong (X̅= 7.2 MPa), regummed biocomposites are able to absorb five times more mechanical energy (X̅= 5.6 MJm− 3) than the B. mori   cocoons (X̅= 1.1 MJm− 3) and are furthermore able to elongate to more than ten times (X̅= 180%) that of the native cocoons prior to failure. Our research shows that degummed B. mori cocoons can be regummed into sheets that have potential for use as load bearing engineering biocomposites.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)215–220
    JournalMaterials Science and Engineering: C
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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