Highly water-absorbing silk yarn with interpenetrating network via in situ polymerization

Ka I. Lee, Xiaowen Wang, Xia Guo, Ka Fu Yung, Bin Fei

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Silk was modified via in situ polymerization of two monomers acrylamide and sodium acrylate by swelling in an effective LiBr dissolution system. Swelling of natural silks in LiBr solutions of low concentration was clearly observed under optical microscope, and their conformational changes were revealed by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Dissolution tests and FTIR spectra of these modified silks suggested the presence of interpenetrating network of polyacrylamide and poly(sodium acrylate) in the silk yarns. These modified silks exhibited superior water absorption to that of raw silk and greatly improved mechanical properties in both dry and wet states. These novel modified silks also showed low cytotoxicity towards skin keratinocytes, having potential applications in biomedical textiles. This modification method by in situ polymerization after swelling in LiBr provides a new route to highly enhance the properties and performance of silk for various applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)826-832
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Biological Macromolecules
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • In situ polymerization
  • Silk
  • Water absorption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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