Reversibly photo-modulating mechanical stiffness and toughness of bioengineered protein fibers

Liu, K., Sun, J., Ma, C., Maity, S., Wang, F., Zhou, Y., Portale, G., Göstl, R., Roos, W. H., Zhang, H. & Herrmann, A., 2020, In : Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English).

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  • Reversibly photo‐modulating mechanical stiffness and toughness of bioengineered protein fibers

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Light-responsive materials have been extensively studied due to the attractive possibility of manipulating their properties with high spatiotemporal control in a non-invasive fashion. This stimulated the development of a series of photo-deformable smart devices. However, it remained a challenge to reversibly modulate the stiffness and toughness of bulk materials. Here, we present bioengi-neered protein fibers and their optomechanical manipulation by employing electrostatic interactions between supercharged polypeptides (SUPs) and an azobenzene (Azo)-based surfactant. Photo-isomerization of the Azo moiety from the E - to Z -form reversibly triggered the modulation of tensile strength, stiffness, and toughness of the bulk protein fiber. Specifically, the photo-induced rearrangement into the Z-form of Azo possibly strengthened cation-π interactions within the fiber material resulting in around twofold increase in the fiber's mechanical performance. The outstanding mechanical and responsive properties open a path towards the development of SUP-Azo fibers as smart stimuli-responsive mechano-biomaterials.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAngewandte Chemie (International ed. in English)
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020

ID: 145065711