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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:North Dakota State University Fargo
  • (701) 231-7906
Award Date:08/29/2017
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 145,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 145,000
  • FY 2017=$145,000
Start Date:09/01/2017
End Date:08/31/2019
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:EAGER: Improving the Length and Consistency of a Biomimetic Silk Fiber for Industrial Applications
Federal Award ID Number:1746111
DUNS ID:803882299
Parent DUNS ID:803882299
Program:Materials Eng. & Processing
Program Officer:
  • Mary M. Toney
  • (703) 292-7008

Awardee Location

Street:Dept 4000 - PO Box 6050
Awardee Cong. District:00

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:North Dakota State University Fargo
Cong. District:00

Abstract at Time of Award

Despite its promise, the full benefits of spider silk have yet to be harnessed as all previous spinning techniques have resulted in inferior synthetic fibers. While the natural underlying chemical structure and fiber production of spider silks have co-evolved over millions of years, synthetic silk fiber production devices do not mimic the biological process and are plagued by inconsistency because of (1) a simplified spinning process, and (2) shorter and incomplete protein/polymers used in spinning. This EArly-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) award will support the generation of data to demonstrate the feasibility of mimicking the natural silk spinning process using additive manufacturing to produce consistent, high-performance, silk-based fibers of length. This award will enable fundamental research to provide needed knowledge for the commercial development of spider silk and other high performance micron-scale fibers. The new process will enable predictable diameter silk fibers for use in automotive, military, biomedical, and other commercial endeavors to be produced via shear thinning. Therefore, results from this research will benefit the U.S. economy and society. This research involves several disciplines including mechanical engineering, cell and molecular biology, control theory, and materials science and will help broaden participation of underrepresented groups, integrating multiple students in research and positively impacting engineering education. Although major ampullate spider silk has been sought after for its characteristic strength and toughness for decades, production of the fiber has been hampered by inconsistency. Recently, new knowledge about the spider's black box silk production has been obtained, providing important insight into high-performance fiber production. A combination of chemical environment and mechanical forces are necessary to produce high-performance, micron-scale fibers. Previous efforts have not provided this combination and have produced fibers with inferior mechanical properties. The advent of additive manufacturing and microfluidics will allow both the shear forces as well as the chemical environment (i.e., pH or ionic gradient) of the spider's biological silk spinning system to be mimicked, representing a significant departure from the current dogma of the field. This research will establish a predictable correlation between the genetic sequence of the protein, the chemical environment of the spin dope, and the mechanical shear necessary for protein polymerization and silk production. The research team will produce (1) an immortalized spider silk gland cell line as a steady source of silk proteins, (2) micron-sized silk fibers with consistent diameter, (3) mechanically-tailored and predictable fibers based on alterations of mechanical shear.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Leaf, Benjamin and Umana Chavarria, Daniela and Henning, Christian and Hoffmann, Bradley and Brooks, Amanda E. "Automation of the Silk Spinning Process by the Creation of an Electronic COntrol System" Biomedical sciences instrumentation, v.54, 2018, p.. Citation details  

Soufizadeh-Balaneji, Nasim and Staiger, Alec and Johnson, Nathan and Forness, Adam and Fondong, Greg and Ogundolani, Oluwaseyi and Mulinti, Pranothi and Hoffmann, Bradley and Brooks, Amanda E. "Infusing Synthetic Silk with Rifampicin" Biomedical sciences instrumentation, v.54, 2018, p.. Citation details  

Hoffmann B, Gruat-Henry C "Using hydrodynamic focusing to predictably alter the diameter of synthetic silk fibers" PloS one, v.13, 2018, p.. Citation details  

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