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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Strategies for Making High-Performance Artificial Spider Silk Fibers

Schmuck, Benjamin; Greco, Gabriele; Pessatti, Tomas Bohn; Sonavane, Sumalata; Langwallner, Viktoria; Arndt, Tina; Rising, Anna


Artificial spider silk is an attractive material for many technical applications since it is a biobased fiber that can be produced under ambient conditions but still outcompetes synthetic fibers (e.g., Kevlar) in terms of toughness. Industrial use of this material requires bulk-scale production of recombinant spider silk proteins in heterologous host and replication of the pristine fiber's mechanical properties. High molecular weight spider silk proteins can be spun into fibers with impressive mechanical properties, but the production levels are too low to allow commercialization of the material. Small spider silk proteins, on the other hand, can be produced at yields that are compatible with industrial use, but the mechanical properties of such fibers need to be improved. Here, the literature on wet-spinning of artificial spider silk fibers is summarized and analyzed with a focus on mechanical performance. Furthermore, several strategies for how to improve the properties of such fibers, including optimized protein composition, smarter spinning setups, innovative protein engineering, chemical and physical crosslinking as well as the incorporation of nanomaterials in composite fibers, are outlined and discussed.This review discusses the key strategies for producing artificial spider silk on a bulk-scale with native-like mechanical properties. For the continued development of such a material the researchers within the field should conduct systematic studies of the spinning dope composition, post-spin stretching techniques, protein engineering and cross-linking strategies, as well as consider making composites with nanomaterials.image


biomimetic spinning; mechanical properties; protein fibers; rational designs; wet-spinning

Published in

Advanced Functional Materials