At CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials in Portugal, chemical engineer Tomás Almeida is investigating whether fibroin, a key protein that domestic silkworms use to make their cocoons, can be used as a cheaper and eco-friendly alternative to the solid polymer electrolytes used in hydrogen fuel cells. Silkworms tune the concentration of proteins and ions in the fibers they produce to create a well-defined structure, Tomás explains. He used scanning electron microscopy to reveal the architecture of the cocoons, which serve to protect the silkworm from predators during its metamorphosis. “The cocoons cannot even be broken by hand, we always need a scissor for that!” he says.
Submitted by Tomás Almeida
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