Pulling and analyzing silk fibers from aqueous solution using a robotic device

Teemu Välisalmi, Houari Bettahar, Quan Zhou*, Markus B. Linder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Spiders, silkworms, and many other animals can spin silk with exceptional properties. However, artificially spun fibers often fall short of their natural counterparts partly due sub-optimal production methods. A variety of methods, such as wet-, dry-, and biomimetic spinning have been used. The methods are based on extrusion, whereas natural spinning also involves pulling. Another shortcoming is that there is a lack feedback control during extension. Here we demonstrate a robotic fiber pulling device that enables controlled pulling of silk fibers and in situ measurement of extensional forces during the pulling and tensile testing of the pulled fibers. The pulling device was used to study two types of silk—one recombinant spider silk (a structural variant of ADF3) and one regenerated silk fibroin. Also, dextran—a branched polysaccharide—was used as a reference material for the procedure due to its straightforward preparation and storage. No post-treatments were applied. The pulled regenerated silk fibroin fibers achieved high tensile strength in comparison to similar extrusion-based methods. The mechanical properties of the recombinant spider silk fibers seemed to be affected by the liquid-liquid phase separation of the silk proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126161
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Biological Macromolecules
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Liquid-liquid phase separation
  • Protein fiber
  • Spidroin


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