This work establishes a tensegrity model of spider dragline silk. Tensegrity systems are ubiquitous in nature, being able to capture the mechanics of biological shapes through simple and effective modes of deformation via extension and contraction. Guided by quantitative microstructural characterization via air plasma etching and low voltage scanning electron microscopy, we report that this model is able to capture experimentally observed phenomena such as the Poisson effect, tensile stress‐strain response, and fibre toughness. This is achieved by accounting for spider silks’ hierarchical organization into microfibrils with radially variable properties. Each fibril is described as a chain of polypeptide tensegrity units formed by crystalline granules operating under compression, which are connected to each other by amorphous links acting under tension. Our results demonstrate, for the first time, that a radial variability in the ductility of tensegrity chains is responsible for high fibre toughness, a defining and desirable feature of spider silk. Based on this model, a discussion about the use of graded tensegrity structures for the optimal design of next‐generation biomimetic fibres is presented.

Tensegrity modelling and the high toughness of spider dragline silk

Fraternali F.;Amendola A.;
2020

Abstract

This work establishes a tensegrity model of spider dragline silk. Tensegrity systems are ubiquitous in nature, being able to capture the mechanics of biological shapes through simple and effective modes of deformation via extension and contraction. Guided by quantitative microstructural characterization via air plasma etching and low voltage scanning electron microscopy, we report that this model is able to capture experimentally observed phenomena such as the Poisson effect, tensile stress‐strain response, and fibre toughness. This is achieved by accounting for spider silks’ hierarchical organization into microfibrils with radially variable properties. Each fibril is described as a chain of polypeptide tensegrity units formed by crystalline granules operating under compression, which are connected to each other by amorphous links acting under tension. Our results demonstrate, for the first time, that a radial variability in the ductility of tensegrity chains is responsible for high fibre toughness, a defining and desirable feature of spider silk. Based on this model, a discussion about the use of graded tensegrity structures for the optimal design of next‐generation biomimetic fibres is presented.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11386/4767727
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