Glycerol-plasticised silk membranes made using formic acid are ductile, transparent and degradation-resistant

Benjamin J. Allardyce, Rangam Rajkhowa, Rodney J. Dilley, Sharon L. Redmond, Marcus D. Atlas, Xungai Wang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)


    Regenerated silk fibroin membranes tend to be brittle when dry. The use of plasticisers such as glycerol improve membrane ductility, but, when combined with aqueous processing, can lead to a higher degradation rate than solvent-annealed membranes. This study investigated the use of formic acid as the solvent with glycerol to make deformable yet degradation-resistant silk membranes. Here we show that membranes cast using formic acid had low light scattering, with a diffuse transmittance of less than 5% over the visible wavelengths, significantly lower than the 20% transmittance of aqueous derived silk/glycerol membranes. They had 64% β-sheet content and lost just 30% of the initial silk weight over 6h when tested with an accelerated enzymatic degradation assay, in comparison the aqueous membranes completely degraded within this timeframe. The addition of glycerol also improved the maximum elongation of formic acid derived membranes from under 3% to over 100%. They also showed good cytocompatibility and supported the adhesion and migration of human tympanic membrane keratinocytes. Formic acid based, silk/glycerol membranes may be of great use in medical applications such as repair of tympanic membrane perforation or ocular applications where transparency and resistance to enzymatic degradation are important.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)165-173
    Number of pages9
    JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


    Dive into the research topics of 'Glycerol-plasticised silk membranes made using formic acid are ductile, transparent and degradation-resistant'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this