Malvern Rheometer Helps Oxford Scientists Unravel Secrets of Silk


Researchers at Oxford University have published work comparing the rheology of spider and silkworm spinning dope - the liquid material from which solid fibres are spun (Nature Materials, Nov 06). Critical to the success of this work, which ultimately will contribute to the industrial production of silks, was the new Bohlin Gemini HR nano rheometer from Malvern Instruments. This system is optimized for the control of ultra-low torques and is ideal for probing sensitive material structures and allowing measurement of low volume samples.

Spun fibres, whether natural or man-made, rely on extrusion processes to facilitate molecular orientation and bonding. The purpose of this ongoing work is to gain a better understanding of the flow characteristics of the native spinning feedstock, with a view to applying this knowledge to artificial fibre production.

Prof. Fritz Vollrath who led the research team said: "Silk can outperform most industrial fibres, but spider silk has proved impossible to reproduce. Using the Gemini HR nano we discovered that both of the natural dopes we studied behaved like typical polymer melts, indicating that natural silks can be analyzed using the tools developed for commercial polymers. We hope ultimately that this will help make possible the industrial production of silks using nature's own way."

The Bohlin Gemini HR nano enables the measurement and control of nano-torque levels. At the same time it retains a continuous working torque range to 200 mNm allowing complete rheological characterization. Allied to the most sensitive normal force measurement available, the Gemini HR nano offers the ultimate in instrument capabilities for weakly-structured and low viscosity systems. www.malvern.com

For further details of this work visit: http://www.nature.com/nmat/index.html

High resolution image attached or available from Trish Appleton, Kapler Communications trish@kapleronline.com Ref: MAL/JOB/1239

NOTE: Image copyright OSG 2006 (Oxford Silk Group)

CAPTION: Nephila senegalensis

About Malvern Instruments
Malvern Instruments is a global company that develops, manufactures and markets advanced analytical systems used in characterizing a wide variety of materials, from bulk powders to the latest nanomaterials and delicate macromolecules. Innovative technologies and powerful software produce systems that deliver industrially relevant data enabling customers to make the connection between micro (eg particle size) and macro (bulk) material properties (rheology) and chemical composition (chemical imaging). Malvern laboratory, on-line and in-line solutions are proven in sectors from cement to pharmaceuticals and support the understanding, improvement and optimization of many industrial processes.

Headquartered in Malvern, UK, the company has subsidiary organizations in all major European markets, North America, China, Korea and Japan, key partnerships in India, a global distributor network and a number of applications laboratories around the world. www.malvern.com

USA contact:
Marisa Fraser, Malvern Instruments Inc
10 Southville Road, Southborough, MA 01772, USA
Tel: +1 508 480 0200; Fax: +1 508 460 9692 marisa.fraser@malvern.com

Please send sales enquiries to:
Alison Vines, Malvern Instruments Ltd
Enigma Business Park, Grovewood Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 1XZ UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1684 892456; Fax: +44 (0) 1684 892789 salesinfo@malvern.com

More from Architectural & Civil Engineering Products

All Topics