Growing Silk Fibroin in Advanced Materials for Food Security | AIChE

Growing Silk Fibroin in Advanced Materials for Food Security


Conference Presentation

Conference Type

AIChE Annual Meeting

Presentation Date

November 8, 2021


20 minutes

Skill Level




In this presentation we provide an overview of the micro-/nanofabrication methods developed for structural biopolymers, highlighting recent advances in the rapid and ease construction of complex and multifunctional silk fibroin-based devices by integrating top-down manufacturing with bottom-up molecular self-assembly. Of particular interest is the development of a new nanofabrication strategy that employs templated crystallization to direct silk fibroin folding and assembly from a suspension of disordered, random coil molecules to ordered, hierarchical mesostructured materials. Such advancements in structural biopolymers fabrication provide the basis for engineering a new generation of technical materials that can be interfaced with food and plants. In particular, we will present newly developed techniques to direct the assembly of structural proteins into nanostructured materials that can serve as: edible coatings to prolong the shelf-life of perishable food, microenvironments to boost seed germination in saline soil and injectors to deliver payloads in plant vasculature. These examples will provide an opportunity to discuss how the establishment of a successful interface between biomaterials and plants tissues requires the development of a basic scientific knowledge on: mechanics of disorder to order transitions in proteinaceous materials during condensation phenomena, fluid mechanics and transport phenomena in plants vasculature, and swelling of porous materials exposed to plant fluids.


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