We are developing a biomimetic microfluidic device for silk fiber formation that mimics the complexity of in vivo arachnid silk spinning organs. Current methods of fiber formation involve high temperatures and pressures to extrude polymer fibers, which is prohibitive for many biological applications such as tissue engineering. Spiders, however, are able to produce high strength silk fibers under benign conditions. Examination of the spider silk gland reveals that it is essentially a complex microfluidic system. Through in depth understanding of microscopic hydrodynamics, we are developing a device that mimics the mechanics and chemistry of arachnid silk glands for the precision production of silk fibers at ambient temperatures and pressures.
Project end date: 04/02/10