ZEISS Microscopy

Microscopic Characterization of Polymer Fibers with Dragline Spider Silk Properties

With X-ray Microscopy and FE-SEM

Microscopic Characterization of Polymer Fibers with Dragline Spider Silk Properties

With X-ray Microscopy and FE-SEM

Analyzing morphology & understanding effects of annealing and stretching processes

Of synthetic polymer fibers

The Use Case: Dragline spider silk is known for its unique combination of strength and toughness. But this combination has been hard to replicate in synthetic fibers. To push the limits, scientists are trying to find a way to produce synthetic materials with a strength and toughness comparable to that of spider silk by designing an innovative microstructure of synthetic fibers. For this purpose, microscopic characterization using SEM and XRM helps to understand the link of microstructure, process and property.

The Challenge: To create similar strong and tough fibers from polymers, it is essential to reach the nearly perfect uniaxial orientation of the fibrils by heat stretching, annealing under tension in the presence of linking molecules.

The Solution: Both a ZEISS FE-SEM and a X-ray microscope, ZEISS Xradia Ultra, were successfully applied to characterize the morphology and to understand the effects of the annealing and stretching process in order to optimize the overall properties of polymer fibers.

The Use Case: Dragline spider silk is known for its unique combination of strength and toughness. But this combination has been hard to replicate in synthetic fibers. To push the limits, scientists are trying to find a way to produce synthetic materials with a strength and toughness comparable to that of spider silk by designing an innovative microstructure of synthetic fibers. For this purpose, microscopic characterization using SEM and XRM helps to understand the link of microstructure, process and property.

The Challenge: To create similar strong and tough fibers from polymers, it is essential to reach the nearly perfect uniaxial orientation of the fibrils by heat stretching, annealing under tension in the presence of linking molecules.

The Solution: Both a ZEISS FE-SEM and a X-ray microscope, ZEISS Xradia Ultra, were successfully applied to characterize the morphology and to understand the effects of the annealing and stretching process in order to optimize the overall properties of polymer fibers.

(A) SEM image of the long axis of stretched (at the stretch ratio of 8 and 160°C) and annealed (130°C for 4 hours) yarns. (B) SEM image of a cross-section of the stretched (at the stretch ratio of 8 and 160°C) and annealed (130°C for 4 hours) yarns.
(A) SEM image of the long axis of stretched (at the stretch ratio of 8 and 160°C) and annealed (130°C for 4 hours) yarns. (B) SEM image of a cross-section of the stretched (at the stretch ratio of 8 and 160°C) and annealed (130°C for 4 hours) yarns.

Download the White Paper

Bio-Inspired Polymer Fibers

About the white paper authors & their institutions

Envisioning novel, bio-inspired materials

Juliana Martins de Souza e Silva, Ralf B. Wehrspohn | Divison for Microstructure based Materials Design – mikroMD, Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

The division has its core competencies in the development of application-specific 2D and 3D micro- and nanostructured materials. It uses simulation methods to predict the properties and microstructuring processes and develops adapted mechanical, optical and electro-optical characterization methods.

Xiaojian Liao, Seema Agarwal, Andreas Greiner | Macromolecular Chemistry and Bavarian Polymer Institute, University of Bayreuth, Germany

The department for Macromolecular Chemistry  has research expertise in the synthesis, characterization, and practical application of polymers and low-molecular functional and structural materials. Close cooperation is maintained with the departments of Physical Chemistry and Experimental Physics at the University of Bayreuth as well as with foreign universities and industry.