Date of this Version
Published in Journal of Polymers and the Environment 20 (2012), pp. 659–664; doi: 10.1007/s10924-012-0482-x
This paper reports the structure and properties of silk fibers produced by Actias lunas in comparison to Bombyx mori and the common wild silks. Considerable efforts are being made to find new sources for natural silk and also to develop regenerated protein fibers to supplement the limited amounts of B. mori and wild silks available in the market. In addition, it has been found that non-traditional silks have unique properties and utilizing uncommon wild silks can provide income and employment to indigenous people where the wild silks are found. Actias lunas belongs to the Saturniidae family of silk producing insects. However, the structure and properties of silk produced by A. lunas have not been studied. This research showed that the silk fibers produced by the luna moth had morphological and physical structure similar to that of the common wild silks but tensile properties similar to that of B. mori silk. A. lunas silk fibers are composed of higher amounts of hydrophobic amino acids and had much less glycine than B. mori and common wild silks. With a fineness of 2 denier, breaking tenacity of 4.3 g/den and breaking elongation of 10.9 %, the tensile properties of A. lunas silk fibers were similar to that of B. mori and much better than that of the common wild silks that are coarser and have lower breaking tenacity. A. lunas fibers show good potential to be useful for applications currently using B. mori silk.