Characterization of Silk-Elastinlike Proteins for Use in Soft Bodied Robots.
Canter, Brian Spencer.
- There are millions of procedures every year that can be classified as invasive or minimally invasive. An additional probe such as a soft bodied robot would be of great use to medical practitioners performing these operations. Such robots are the subject of a project commissioned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to be used as reconnaissance in urban warfare. However, if these soft ... read morebodied robots could be made to both biocompatible and biodegradable then they would be ideal for use in invasive procedures. Silk-elastinlike proteins, which combine the properties of silk and elastin, are one candidate to make this happen. Much of the research concerning these proteins has dealt with their possible use in drug delivery and did not focus as much on production or characterization. This study aimed to optimize the production of silk-elastinlike proteins as well as characterize the material and structural properties of these proteins specifically their transition temperature, secondary structure, and resilience. Two different silk-elastinlike proteins, SE 15 and SE 16, were transformed and expressed in bacterial cells before being purified using column chromatography. CD and FTIR were used to investigate the secondary structure of the silk-elastinlike proteins, while UV-Vis Spectroscopy was used to examine the transition temperature of the materials. AFM was used to determine the resiliency of the silk-elastinlike proteins. Ultimately, SE 16 exhibited transition temperature behavior while SE 15 did not. SE 15 was found to be more resilient than SE 16. These differences are largely due to the disparity in silk units and elastin units between SE 15 and SE 16. The secondary structure of both proteins was found to be composed of mostly unordered structures and beta sheets. While more characterization of these materials is needed before they can be produced to make up soft bodied robots, the results of this study do demonstrate a correlation between the properties of silk-elastinlike proteins and the individual numbers of silk units and elastin units.read less