Tensile Strength and Stress of Bombyx Mori Silk

Researchers are striving to find new ways to use Bombyx Mori (silkworm) silk in medicine. It is an extremely versatile material and is very easily obtained. The intent of this experiment was to determine how silk would hold up in the human body depending on the pH of the human body and the stress the silk would undergo. Specifically the silk was exposed to two solutions of pH level 5 and pH level 8. There was also a group of silk which was not exposed to anything. The tensile strength and stress of the silk were then tested. The tensile strength was tested by hanging weights from the silk when it was suspended horizontally and the stress was tested by hanging weights from the silk when it was suspended vertically. The treated silk and the untreated silk were then compared and it was found that there was no significant difference between the two sets of silk. Both held about the same amount of mass (a rough estimate of 500 g) which resulted in about the same amount of force (a rough estimate of 5 N) they could withstand. Overall the silk had a greater stress resistance than tensile strength. The silk was also compared to a few strands of cotton in varying sizes. There were 5 cotton strands used and the first two were about the diameter of the silk. The other three were progressively much larger. Only the tensile strength of the cotton was tested. The cotton strands that were similar to the silk held only about one tenth of what the silk held. It took a cotton strand about 50 times bigger in diameter to hold about the same amount of mass as some of the silk threads. The silk clearly did not differ in strength when compared to itself but showed a significant difference when compared to a material of other sorts.

Research Done By:

Karolina Papiez
Centerline High School

Madison Wallender
South Lake High School