Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 42, Issue 19, pp 8010–8019 | Cite as

Protein fibers: structural mechanics and future opportunities

  • John W. S. HearleEmail author
Polymer Fibres 2006


Part 1 of the paper reviews four categories of protein fibers. (1) Wool and other hairs, which have been used as textiles for thousands of years. (2) Regenerated protein fibers, which were manufactured in the 1950s but did not achieve continued commercial success, and, in the 1990s, fibers from artificially produced spider silk proteins. (3) Hagfish slime threads, as an example of other biological fibers. (4) Silks, from silkworms and spiders. In Part 2, stress–strain curves are compared and discussed in relation to what is known of the structure of the fibers and the mode of formation. Models of the structural mechanics are described. The possibilities for scientific and commercial advances in future are presented in Part 3.


Intermediate Filament Spider Silk Protein Fiber NMMO Cashmere Goat 



I am indebted to discussions with John McKinnon, Warren Bryson, George Rogers, David Parry and Franz-Josef Wortmann on wool and hair, and with Douglas Fudge and John Gosline on hagfish slime threads. In addition, I have trawled the biological literature—but not caught everything of relevance!


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MaterialsUniversity of ManchesterManchesterEngland
  2. 2.The Old VicarageMellor, StockportUK

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