Predicting the mechanical properties of spider silk as a model nanostructured polymer
Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK
2 Department of Macromolecular Science and Key Laboratory of Molecular Engineering of Polymers of Ministry of Education, Fudan University, 200433, Shanghai, P.R. China
* e-mail: DPORTER@qinetiq.com
Published online: 22 February 2005
Spider silk is attractive because it is strong and tough. Moreover, an enormous range of mechanical properties can be achieved with only small changes in chemical structure. Our research shows that the full range of thermo-mechanical properties of silk fibres can be predicted from mean field theory for polymers in terms of chemical composition and the degree of order in the polymer structure. Thus, we can demonstrate an inherent simplicity at a macromolecular level in the design principles of natural materials. This surprising observation allows in depth comparison of natural with man-made materials.
© EDP Sciences/Società Italiana di Fisica/Springer-Verlag, 2005