Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

PhD Doctor of Philosophy


Biomedical Engineering


Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering


Hu, Xiao

Committee Member 1

Lofland, Samuel

Committee Member 2

Beachley, Vincent


silk protein materials, protein-based composites, biocompatibility


Biomedical materials


Biomaterials | Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering


Renewable and biocompatible silk protein materials with desired physical properties show promising applications in biomedical field. In this work, a set of protein-based composites with desired thermal and magnetic properties, enhanced by the appropriate distribution of nanofillers in the protein matrix in both 2D-film and 1D-fiber forms was investigated. Results indicate that secondary structures of silk protein materials regenerated by a formic acid-calcium chloride method are different from those of their respective natural silk fibers. Intramolecular beta-sheet structures were found to dominate these silk films, causing these regenerated samples to be water-insoluble but more flexible than traditional silk films with intermolecular beta-sheet crystals. New renewable thermal management materials based on a stable composite system of biocompatible silk fibroin protein materials and AlN /BN were developed. The self-assembly of nanofillers and SF was promoted by water annealing to enhance the interaction between the phases to reduce the phonon scattering. Thermal conductivity of the composites was significantly improved. Silk protein with three types of magnetic nanoparticles were combined and investigated. Results indicate that magnetite (Fe3O4) and barium hexaferrite (BaFe12O19) can inhibit beta-sheet formation due to strong coordination bonding between Fe3+ ions and carboxylate ions and on silk fibroin chains where cobalt particles showed minimal effect. All three types of magnetic composites films maintained high magnetization. This work is significant in that it represents a novel and systematic study on expanding the potential biomedical applications of a set of protein-based composites.

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