The use of natural fibres over synthetic fibres is gaining widespread importance due to its availability; renewability, low density and satisfactory mechanical properties making them an ecological alternative to synthetic fibres. The innumerable properties of silk fibre have made it superior to be used by researchers both in the plastic and biomedical sector. Silk fibre reinforced PVA (polyvinylalcohol) and PVA/PVP (polyvinyl pyrrolidone) films were prepared via solution casting technique. The effect of silk fibre concentration, on the structural, thermal, mechanical, bio-degradable and the morphological properties of the composite films was assessed. The results indicated that the addition of silk fibres improved the thermal, morphological, mechanical and biodegradable properties of the films. The extensive use of silk fibroin in the biomedical field, due to its robust properties has made it a promising material, suitable in tissue engineering applications. Keeping this in view, the current study also focuses on re-tailoring the properties of silk fibres by grafting a natural polysaccharide like chitosan and thereby fabricate composite films of PVA reinforced with this grafted fibre. The films were tested for their potential applications in tissue engineering, by subjecting them to in vitro biocompatibility tests. The films were also tested for their antibacterial properties. The results thus obtained indicated that the films were non-toxic in all concentrations and were found to be suitable for biomaterial applications.
Part of the book: Generation, Development and Modifications of Natural Fibers