Synergy between silk fibroin and ionic liquids for active gas-sensing materials

Moreira, IP, Esteves C, Palma SICJ, Ramou E, Carvalho ALM, Roque ACA.  2022.  Synergy between silk fibroin and ionic liquids for active gas-sensing materials, jun. Materials Today Bio. 15:100290.: Elsevier


Silk fibroin is a biobased material with excellent biocompatibility and mechanical properties, but its use in bioelectronics is hampered by the difficult dissolution and low intrinsic conductivity. Some ionic liquids are known to dissolve fibroin but removed after fibroin processing. However, ionic liquids and fibroin can cooperatively give rise to functional materials, and there are untapped opportunities in this combination. The dissolution of fibroin, followed by gelation, in designer ionic liquids from the imidazolium chloride family with varied alkyl chain lengths (2–10 carbons) is shown here. The alkyl chain length of the anion has a large impact on fibroin secondary structure which adopts unconventional arrangements, yielding robust gels with distinct hierarchical organization. Furthermore, and due to their remarkable air-stability and ionic conductivity, fibroin ionogels are exploited as active electrical gas sensors in an electronic nose revealing the unravelled possibilities of fibroin in soft and flexible electronics.



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