Self-assembled silk fibroin (SF)-polyethylenimine (PEI) multilayered films were fabricated on ethanol treated
electrospun SF nanofibrous substrates via the electrostatic layer-by-layer (LBL) adsorption. The film coated membranes
were characterized using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscope (TEM) and X-ray
photoelectron spectrophotometer (XPS). The SEM images showed that the multilayers of SF-PEI were formed on the
surface of the ethanol treated SF nanofibres. The characteristics such as the fiber shape and porous structure were well
maintained as the number of the coated SF-PEI bilayers was less than five. However, obvious adhesive substances and
blocked pores were observed on the surface of the fibers as the number of bilayers of SF-PEI increased to six.
Furthermore, the obvious core-shell structures were observed by TEM. The thickness of five SF-PEI bilayers was
approximately 80nm. Additionally, the XPS results also revealed that the SF-PEI multilayer composite membranes
formed. The adsorption mainly depended on a simple electrostatic interaction between the layers of SF and PEI. These
SF-PEI multilayer assembled nanofibrous membranes could be a promising material for use as a sensor, gene delivery
agent and scaffolds.