Wei-Zheng Shen1,2, Paolo Mussone1,2, Kumakshi Sharma1,2, Carlo Montemagno1,2.
1Ingenuity Lab, 11421 Saskatchewan Drive, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2M9, Canada.
2Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton T6G 2V4, Canada.
Economic and societal pressures are driving the rapid development of functional materials based on renewable feedstock. Ingenuity Lab is participating in these efforts through a research program focused on demonstrating and scaling a new template technology to manufacture composites with advanced mechanical and thermal properties based on two of the most abundant biomass feedstock on Earth, cellulose and proteins.
The first component of this contribution will focus on the demonstration of the key concept of this program, the development of a novel biomimetic approach that incorporates cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) into the β-sheets of silk fibroin proteins (SF). Unlike conventional composite manufacturing in which CNCs is used as a dispersed phase (reinforcement) within a continuous matrix, in this program CNCs is first functionalized ad hoc to facilitate the formation of chemical interactions to SF.
In second part of this talk, emphasis will be placed on recent progress in establishing a correlation between the structures (chemical bonds, morphology, crystallinity, and the crystals’ orientation), the thermal properties (glass transition, crystallization, and degradation temperature), and the mechanical properties (elasticity and tensile strength) of the thin films of CNCs-SF nanocomposites.
Finally, considerations pertaining ongoing optimization efforts of the CNCs-SF nanocomposite formulation for fiber fabrication and future directions in templating this approach to other protein sources will be given.