Investigation of synthetic spider silk crystallinity and alignment via electrothermal, pyroelectric, literature XRD, and tensile techniques

Troy Munro, Tristan Putzeys, Cameron G. Copeland, Changhu Xing, Randolph V. Lewis, Heng Ban, Christ Glorieux, Michael Wubbenhorst

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The processes used to create synthetic spider silk greatly affect the properties of the produced fibers. This paper investigates the effect of process variations during artificial spinning on the thermal and mechanical properties of the produced silk. Property values are also compared to the ones of the natural dragline silk of the Nephila clavipes spider, and to unprocessed (as-spun) synthetic silk. Structural characterization by scanning pyroelectric microscopy is employed to provide insight into the axial orientation of the crystalline regions of the fiber and is supported by X-ray diffraction data. The results show that stretching and passage through liquid baths induce crystal formation and axial alignment in synthetic fibers, but with different structural organization than natural silks. Furthermore, an increase in thermal diffusivity and elastic modulus is observed with decreasing fiber diameter, trending toward properties of natural fiber. This effect seems to be related to silk fibers being subjected to a radial gradient during production. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish
Article number1600480
Number of pages9
JournalMacromolecular Materials and Engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017



  • crystallinity
  • processing
  • pyroelectric
  • spider silk
  • thermal

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