Getting strength and elasticity at the same time has always been a great challenge in materials engineering. Gaining strength means losing elasticity and vice versa.
Today researchers from VTT and Aalto University may have solved the problem with a bio-material inspired by nature.
The team created it by merging cellulose fibers and silk proteins together. The result has been spectacular. A very resistant and at the same time elastic material was obtained, which in the near future can be used in practically every possible and imaginable field of application: textile industry, packaging, medical applications (like suture).
According to the professor Markus Linder, one of the authors of the research, nature offers many ingredients for developing materials. The advantage with both materials used in the specific case (cellulose and silk) is that they are biodegradable and do not harm nature.
“We used birch pulp, breaking it into nanofibers and lining it up on a kind of rigid scaffold. We then infiltrated the cellulose matrix with the adhesive from the spider's web, ”he says Pezhman Mohammadi of the VTT.
Silk is a natural protein secreted by animals such as worms, and is also found in spider webs. The further step taken by Aalto University researchers was to derive this silk from bacteria with modified DNA.
“Our work shows all new materials, the new and versatile possibilities that arise from protein engineering. In the future we will be able to create similar compounds with specific sets of characteristics for each kind of use. "Pezhman Mohammadi , VTT.
The research was published in the scientific journal Science Advances.
A new class of products based on this bio-material and completely biodegradable can totally replace plastic. Wraps, bandages, tie rods, complements of all kinds. They will certainly have a shorter duration than the current one, but this is good.