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Photo-Crosslinkable, Insulating Silk Fibroin for Bioelectronics with Enhanced Cell Affinity

revised on 25.02.2020, 15:02 and posted on 26.02.2020, 06:44 by Jie Ju, Ning Hu, Dana Cairns, Haitao Liu, Brian Timko
Bioelectronic scaffolds that support devices while promoting tissue integration could enable tissue hybrids with augmented electronic capabilities. Here, we demonstrate a Photo-crosslinkable Silk Fibroin (PSF) derivative and investigate its structural, electrical and chemical properties. Lithographically-defined PSF films offered tunable thickness and <1 μm spatial resolution, and could be released from a relief layer yielding freestanding scaffolds with cm-scale uniformity. These constructs were electrically insulating; multi-electrode arrays with PSF-passivated interconnects provided stable electrophysiological readouts from HL-1 cardiac model cells, brain slices and hearts. Compared to SU8, a ubiquitous biomaterial, PSF exhibited superior affinity toward neurons which we attribute to its favorable surface charge and enhanced attachment of poly-d-lysine adhesion factors. This finding is of significant importance in bioelectronics, where tight junctions between devices and cell membranes are necessary for electronic communication. Collectively, our findings are generalizable to a variety of geometries, devices and tissues, establishing PSF as a promising bioelectronic platform.


Tissue Engineering Resource Center

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

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NNCI: The Center for Nanoscale System (CNS) at Harvard University

Directorate for Engineering

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Email Address of Submitting Author


Tufts University



ORCID For Submitting Author


Declaration of Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


Read the published paper

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences