The thermal and structural properties of binary blends of Nylon-6 (N6) and a chemically related biopolymer, Bombyx mori silk fibroin (SF), are reported in this work. Homopolymers and blends, in composition ratios of N6/SF ranging from 95/05
to 70/30, were investigated by thermogravimetric (TG) analysis, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), Fourier transform
infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and wide angle X-ray scattering (WAXS). Silk fibroin typically degrades at temperatures just
above 210°C, which occurs within the melting endotherm of N6. In TG studies, the measured mass remaining was slightly greater
than expected, indicating the blends had improved thermal stability. No beta sheet crystals of SF were detected by FTIR analysis
of the Amide I region.
Strong interaction between N6 and SF chains was observed, possibly as a result of formation of hydrogen bonds between N6 and
SF chains. DSC analysis showed that the addition of SF to N6 caused a decrease in the crystallization temperature, the melting
temperature of the lowest melting crystals and the crystallinity of N6. Furthermore, the α-crystallographic phase dominates
and the γ-crystallographic phase was not observed in N6/SF blends, in contrast to the homopolymer N6, which contains both
phases. We suggest that the addition of SF might result in changes of the chain extension of N6, which lead to the appearance
of α-rather than γ-phase crystals.