Protein-based thermoplastic elastomers

Karthik Nagapudi, William T. Brinkman, Johannes Leisen, Benjamin S. Thomas, Elizabeth R. Wright, Carolyn Haller, Xiaoyi Wu, Robert P. Apkarian, Vincent P. Conticello, Elliot L. Chaikof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Investigations of high molecular weight recombinant protein triblock copolymers demonstrate unique opportunities to systematically modify material microstructure on both nano- and meso-length scales in a manner not been previously demonstrated for protein polymer systems. Significantly, through the biosynthesis of BAB-type copolymers containing flanking, plastic-like end blocks and an elastomeric midblock, virtually cross-linked protein-based materials were generated that exhibit tunable properties in a manner completely analogous to synthetic thermoplastic elastomers. Through the rational choice of processing conditions that control meso- and nanoscale structure, changes of greater than 3 orders of magnitude in Young's modulus (0.03-35 MPa) and 5-fold in elongation to break (250-1300%) were observed. Extensibility of this range or magnitude has not been previously reported for virtually cross-linked copolymers that have been produced by either chemical or biosynthetic approaches. We anticipate that these versatile protein-based thermoplastic elastomers will find applications as novel scaffolds for tissue engineering and as new biomaterials for controlled drug release and cell encapsulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-354
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 25 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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