Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 47, Issue 7, pp 3082–3088 | Cite as

Bio-composite aspects of silk: the sericin sheath acting as a matrix



Industrial Bombyx mori silk yarns have been degummed and mechanically tested. The principal mechanical characteristics of these yarns have been obtained and compared, before and after degumming. It has been observed that the sericin sheath surrounding the silk fibres plays a bigger part in determining behaviour than had been expected. The initial gradients of the force/strain curves were reduced by 21% when the sericin were removed and this was associated with a 20% fall in the failure forces obtained. The force/strain curves up to failure of the yarns were completely modified with the removal of the sericin and showed a multi-level fracture surface rather than a net failure. This variation was not due to the treatment involved in removing the sericin. The role of the sericin sheath has been studied using scanning electron microscopy with in situ tensile testing. The sericin have been seen to act like a matrix, as in a fibre composite with the silk fibres as the reinforcements. As in a composite, the force transfer between the sericin sheath and the inner fibre is controlled by shear forces at the interface between the two and result in the modified fracture morphology and physical properties.


Single Fibre Initial Slope Silk Fibre Sodium Carbonate Solution Initial Modulus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Scanning electron microscope


Standard industrial silk yarn


Degummed standard industrial silk yarn


Standard industrial silk yarn extracted fibre



This study was supported by the Agence Nationale pour la Recherche under the project entitled ‘ANR blanche Nanosoie’. Further support from Perrin & fils which provided the material is acknowledged.


  1. 1.
    Bartow B, Buffalo MD (1916) J Bone Jt Surg 2:217Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Meinel L, Hofmann S, Karageorgiou V, Zichner L, Langer R, Kaplan D, Vunjak-Novakovic G (2004) Biotechnol Bioeng 88:379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Vollrath F, Porter D (2006) Soft Matter 2:377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Altman GH, Diaz F, Jakuba C, Calabro T, Horan RL, Chen J, Lu H, Richmond J, Kaplan D (2003) Biomaterials 24:401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Vepari C, Kaplan DL (2007) Prog Polym Sci 32:991CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Beaulard MF (1903) J Phys 4:785Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Pérez-Rigueiro J, Viney C, Llorca J, Elices M (1998) J Appl Polym Sci 70:2439CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Parthasarathy KM, Naresh MD, Arumugam V, Subramaniam V, Sanjeevi R (1996) J Appl Polym Sci 59:2049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Martel A, Burghammer M, Davies RJ, Riekel C (2007) Biomacromolecules 8:3548CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Nakamae K, Nishino T, Ohkubo H (1989) Polymer 30:1243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Seydel T, Kölln K, Krasnov I, Diddens I, Hauptmann N, Helms G, Ogurreck M, Kang SG, Koza MM, Müller M (2007) Macromolecules 40:1035CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Krasnov I, Diddens I, Hauptmann N, Helms G, Ogurreck M, Seydel T, Funari SS, Müller M (2008) Phys Rev Lett 100:1Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Asakura T, Demura M, Date T, Miyashita N, Ogawa K, Williamson MP (1997) Biopolymers 41:193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lefèvre T, Rousseau M–E, Pézolet M (2007) Biophys J 92:2885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Lefèvre T, Paquet-Mercier F, Lesage S, Rouseau M–E, Bédard S, Pézolet M (2009) Vib Spectrosc 51:136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Pérez-Rigueiro J, Elices M, Plaza GR, Guinea GV (2007) Macromolecules 40:5360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Jauzein V, Colomban P (2009) In: Bunsell AR (ed) Handbook of tensile properties of textile and technical fibres. Woodhead Publishing, Cambridge, pp 144–172Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Pérez-Rigueiro J, Viney C, Llorca J, Elices M (2000) J Appl Polym Sci 75:1270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Pérez-Rigueiro J, Elices M, Llorca J, Viney C (2002) J Appl Polym Sci 84:1431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Jiang P, Liu H, Wang C, Wu L, Huang J, Guo C (2006) Mater Lett 60:919CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Chen F, Porter D, Vollrath F (2009) 17th International conference on composite materialsGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Bunsell AR, Hearle JWS, Hunter R (1971) J Phys E 4:868CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Ki CS, Kim JW, Oh HJ, Lee KH, Park YH (2007) Int J Biol Macromol 41:346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Morton W, Hearle JWS (2008) In: Morton WE and Hearle JWS (eds) Physical properties of textile fibres, 4th edn. The Textile Institute/CRC, ManchesterGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Bunsell AR, Renard J (2005) Fundamentals of Fibre Reinforced Composite Materials. Institute of Physics/CRC, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mines Paris TechCentre des MatériauxFrance

Personalised recommendations