Method for Fabrication of Silk Photonic Crystals by Nanocontact Imprinting

There exists a need for photonic structures such as photonic films and crystals based on biopolymers that are biodegradable, biocompatible, and minimize the negative impact to the environment. In addition, there exists a need for photonic structures that may provide additional functional features that are not provided by conventional photonic structures.


This invention provides for the processing of a biopolymer into photonic structures using nanoimprinting. Biopolymer-based nanoimprinted photonic structures, or "biophotonic structures," and methods for manufacturing such photonic structures, move the frontier of nanodevices toward "living" or biological components and marry the precise options derived from biological molecular recognitions (e.g., enzymes, cells) with traditional photonics devices to address the material requirements. Problems with poor biodegradation of conventional bio-sensing devices may be solved by biodegradable photonic structures. Additionally, the nanoimprinting processes of the present invention provide for a new class of active biophotonic nanodevices that open new opportunities for bio-sensing and bio-applications where spectral information can be customized in m organic, biocompatible structure without the need of fluorescent tags or chemical indicators. The invention provides for silk fibroin as the primary protein-based films for the realization of entirely organic biophotonic nano-materials and devices. Appropriate nanoscale geometries define light scattering regimes within the protein films that, in turn, lead to specifically engineered resonance phenomena ranging from traditional photonic crystal scattering (Braga scattering) to enhanced opalescence from nano textured, subwavelength biophotonic structures. By controlling the geometry of the nano-pattems, the present invention enables the design of custom spectral responses and controls the flow of light through biological samples.

Intellectual Property

US Patent 9,599,891, Issued March 21, 2017 and Published and Issued Patents in Canada, France, Germany,  United Kingdom and Japan

Tufts University case T001498


Licensing Contact

Martin Son