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Title: Sonic properties of silks
Author: Mortimer, Elizabeth R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 3658
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Silks are biomaterials made by spiders and silkworms, evolved for natural functions ranging from protection to predation. The research presented in this Thesis combines principles and methods from engineering, physics and biology to study the material properties of single silk fibres from a biological perspective. In particular, the factors that contribute to the variation in properties of single silk fibres are investigated. The first part of the Thesis focuses on silks made by silkworms. Whether naturally spun or forced reeled, the mechanical properties of these silks are sensitive to a range of environmental and processing conditions, such as humidity, stretching and reeling speed. The research presented in this section contributes to the understanding of how these applied conditions affect silk mechanical properties, which can be understood in terms of silk’s protein structure and biological context. The second section compares both silkworm and spider silk single fibres to other materials in terms of their sonic properties – how the materials propagate sound waves, whether following impact, or propagating vibrations. The results are discussed in the context of the silk’s natural function for impact resistance (silkworm cocoon or spider web) and vibrational signalling (spider silks). The Thesis ends with a discussion of how the presented techniques can be applied to help further our understanding of orb web function through studying spider silks. Overall, this interdisciplinary Thesis contributes to our understanding of the structure-property-function links of these fascinating biomaterials.
Supervisor: Vollrath, Fritz; Siviour, Clive R.; Holland, Chris Sponsor: Leverhulme Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Zoological sciences ; Materials Sciences ; Biophysics ; Advanced materials ; Solid mechanics ; silk ; web ; biomechanics ; vibration