Data_Sheet_1_Regenerated Silk and Carbon Nanotubes Dough as Masterbatch for High Content Filled Nanocomposites.docx

Regenerated silk (RS) is a natural polymer that results from the aggregation of liquid silk fibroin proteins. In this work, we observed that RS dispersed in aqueous solution undergoes a reversible solid/liquid transition by programmed heating/cooling cycles. Fourier transform infrared, atomic force microscopy imaging and Raman measurements of the RS reveal that the transition from random coil to β-sheet structures is involved in this liquid–solid transition. The reversible solid-liquid transition of silk fibroin was then found to be helpful to prepare polymer-like carbon nanotube (CNT) dispersions. We demonstrate that the gelation of RS makes the CNTs with the consistency of a dough with polymeric behavior. Such RS can disperse carbon nanotubes at high concentrations of tens of weight percent. Finally, such carbon nanotube dough has been used for the realization of rubber composites. With this method, we pave the way for handling nanopowders (e.g. CNTs or graphene related materials) with safety and reducing the filler volatility that is critical in polymer-processing.