Exploring the properties of genetically engineered silk-elastin-like protein films
Free standing films of a genetically engineered silk-elastin-like protein (SELP) were prepared using water and formic acid as solvents. Exposure to methanol-saturated air promoted the formation of aggregated β-strands rendering aqueous insolubility and improved the mechanical properties leading to a 10-fold increase in strain-to-failure. The films were optically clear with resistivity values similar to natural rubber and thermally stable up to 180 °C. Addition of glycerol showed to enhance the flexibility of SELP/glycerol films by interacting with SELP molecules through hydrogen bonding, interpenetrating between the polymer chains and granting more conformational freedom. This detailed characterization provides cues for future and unique applications using SELP based biopolymers.