A silk-based optical switch


The use of biomaterials as optical components has recently attracted attention because of their ease of functionalization and fabrication, along with their potential use when integrated with biological materials.

Our research

We presented an observation of the optical properties of a silk-azobenzene material (Azosilk) and demonstrated the operation of an Azosilk/PDMS composite structure that serves as a conformable and switchable optical diffractive structure. Characterization of thermal and isomeric properties of the device, along with its overall performance, were presented in terms of diffractive characteristics and response times. The ease of manufacturing and functionalization opens a promising avenue for rapid device prototyping and interfaces of expanded utility.


Giovanni Perotto and Fiorenzo Omenetto
SilkLab, Tufts University (MA)


Giovanna Palermo *, Luca Barberi *, Giovanni Perotto †, Roberto Caputo, Luciano De Sio ‡, Cesare Umeton ‡, and Fiorenzo G. Omenetto ‡, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 9 (36), 30951–7, 2017

* Physical measurements
† Azo-silk synthesization
‡ Research design