Programming Silk For Wearable Electronics

Scientists have used calcium ions to modify silk fibroins, creating a reusable, biocompatible adhesive for electronic and pharmaceutical applications.

AsianScientist (Dec. 5, 2018) – A team of scientists in South Korea has developed a silk-like material that is flexible, biocompatible and adhesive, paving the way for electronics or drug delivery devices that can be attached to biological surfaces such as skin. They published their findings in Advanced Functional Materials.

Materials that can adhere to biological surfaces could be very useful for wearable electronics or as carriers drugs. However, such materials would need to be biocompatible, that is, non-toxic to living tissue.

In the present study, researchers led by Professor Jenny Lee Hyunjoo at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) have developed calcium-modified silk fibroin as a biocompatible and strong adhesive.

Calcium ions embedded in silk fibroins serve to capture water and enhance the cohesion force of the material. The researchers demonstrated strong viscoelasticity and strong adhesiveness when they physically attached their calcium-modified silk to human skin and various polymer substrates. They also showed that the silk adhesive was reusable, water-degradable, biocompatible and conductive.

The team then fabricated an epidermal capacitive touch sensor that can be attached to human skin, verifying the reusability of the sensor by performing attachment and detachment tests. Furthermore, they tested the stretchability of the silk adhesive on bladder tissue. When the bladder tissue was stretched, changes in the conductive properties of the silk adhesive corresponded to the tensile strain it experienced.

“We are opening up a novel use for silk by developing reusable and biodegradable silk adhesive using biocompatible silk fibroin. This technology will contribute to the development of next-generation epidermal electronics as well as drug delivery systems,” said Lee.

The article can be found at: Seo et al. (2018) Epidermal Electronics: Calcium‐Modified Silk as a Biocompatible and Strong Adhesive for Epidermal Electronics .


Source: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology; Photo: Advanced Functional Materials.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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