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A Soy Protein-Based Composite Film with a Hierarchical Structure Inspired by Nacre

Yecheng Xu1, Chaojie Xu1, Mingsong Chen1, Jianzhang Li1, Ling Zeng2, Jing Luo3, Qiang Gao1,*, Sheldon Q. Shi4,*

1 Beijing Key Laboratory of Wood Science and Engineering & MOE Key Laboratory of Wooden Material Science and Application, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, 100083, China
2 Nanning SCISKY Waterborne Technologies Co., Ltd., Nanning, 530105, China
3 College of Materials Science and Engineering, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing, 210037, China
4 College of Engineering, Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering, University of North Texas, Denton, 76207-7102, USA

* Corresponding Authors: Qiang Gao. Email: ; Sheldon Q. Shi. Email:

Journal of Renewable Materials 2022, 10(3), 639-652.


Soy protein-based composite film is a potential replacement for petroleum-based film with multipurpose applications and cleaner production. It is difficult to improve both the tensile strength and toughness of a protein-based film without sacrificing its elongation. In this study, inspired by the hierarchical structure of nacre, a facile yet delicate strategy was developed to fabricate a novel bio-based film with excellent toughness and high strength. Triglycidylamine (TGA) crosslinked soy protein (SPI) as hard phase and thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer (TPU) as soft phase comprise an alternative lay-up hierarchical structure. The interface of these two phases is enhanced using triglycidylamine (TGA) surface-modified TPU (MTPU). The tensile strength of SPI/MTPU/TGA films increases by 392% to 7.78 MPa and their toughness increases by 391% to 8.50 MJ/m3 compared to soy protein/glycerol film. The proposed hierarchical structure can also be extended to other high-performance materials and polymers.


Cite This Article

Xu, Y., Xu, C., Chen, M., Li, J., Zeng, L. et al. (2022). A Soy Protein-Based Composite Film with a Hierarchical Structure Inspired by Nacre. Journal of Renewable Materials, 10(3), 639–652.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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