Mechanical properties of single-brin silkworm silk

J. Pérez-Rigueiro, C. Viney, J. Llorca, M. Elices

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Citations (Scopus)


Mechanical tests were performed on single brins of Bombyx mori silkworm silk, to obtain values of elastic modulus (E), yield strength, tensile breaking strength, and shear modulus (G). Specimen cross-sectional areas, needed to convert tensile loads into stresses, were derived from diameter measurements performed by scanning electron microscopy. Results are compared with existing literature values for partially degummed silkworm baves. The tensile modulus (16±1 GPa) and yield strength (230±10 MPa) of B. mori brin are significantly higher than the literature values reported for bave. The difference is attributed principally to the presence of sericin in bave, contributing to sample cross-section but adding little to the fiber's ability to resist tensile deformation. The two brins in bave are found to contribute equally and independently to the tensile load-bearing ability of the material. Measurements performed with a torsional pendulum can be combined with tensile load-extension data to obtain a value of E/vG that is not sensitive to sample cross-sectional dimensions or, therefore, to the presence of sericin. The value of E measured for brin can be used together with this result to obtain G = 3.0±0.8 GPa and E/G = 5.3±0.3 for brin. The latter value indicates a mechanical, and therefore microstructural, anisotropy comparable to that of nylon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1270-1277
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Polymer Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2000


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