Biocompatible, optically transparent, patterned, and flexible electrodes and radio-frequency antennas prepared from silk protein and silver nanowire networks†
Biological polymers offer new opportunities for flexible electronics, which are necessary for applications in soft and biological systems, because of their bio- and eco-friendly material traits. However, integrating an arbitrarily patterned electrode, the backbone of electronic devices, is still challenging when transparency of the electrode is required. Here, we report the fabrication of patterned silver nanowire (AgNW) networks buried at the surface of a silk fibroin film, which are suitable for bioelectronic applications that require biocompatibility, flexibility, high conductivity, and optical transparency. The AgNW-buried silk film exhibits excellent low sheet resistance of ∼15 Ω sq.−1 and high optical transparency of over 80%, along with smoothness of the surface. A light-emitting diode (LED) chip is successfully integrated on the patterned electrodes and can be stably turned on and off. Furthermore, we can produce a transparent resistor and a radio-frequency (RF) antenna on the silk film, and use them together as a food sensor that responds to the decreased conductivity caused by rancidity of spoiled food.