Issue 17, 2024

Microfluidic-driven short peptide hydrogels with optical waveguiding properties


Soft photonic elements with optical waveguiding ability based on biocompatible hydrogels have become increasingly important in optical techniques for medical diagnosis and phototherapy, among others. Supramolecular hydrogels based on peptides with interesting optical properties are rarely reported and explored. Although robust crystals based on short peptides have shown optical waveguiding capabilities, their rigidity is the main issue to overcome in the quest for soft biocompatible materials. Here, we report on the microfluidic-assisted formation of a heterochiral short peptide hydrogel that exhibits active optical waveguiding properties thanks to the incorporation of two different dyes, thioflavin T and rhodamine B, into the hydrogel structure. Using our microfluidic platform, different parameters such as the concentration of a peptide, type of dye and its concentration, and flow rate have been rapidly explored, with remarkable low reagent consumption. In this way, it was possible to develop peptide hydrogel waveguides with good optical loss values, modulating the emission in diverse spectral regions. The use of microfluidics to prepare these hydrogels makes possible the preparation of structures of high length-to-diameter aspect ratios, which otherwise are hard to devise from bulk conditions. Overall, this work broadens the use of supramolecular self-assembly of peptides to create functional materials with additional versatility to polymeric hydrogels, thanks to the possibility of tuning the structure by changing amino acid sequences. Additionally, the optical properties can be easily modulated by quick optimization of experimental parameters via microfluidic technology.

Graphical abstract: Microfluidic-driven short peptide hydrogels with optical waveguiding properties

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
19 Jan 2024
04 Apr 2024
First published
11 Apr 2024
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

J. Mater. Chem. C, 2024,12, 6027-6034

Microfluidic-driven short peptide hydrogels with optical waveguiding properties

A. M. Garcia, J. A. Garcia-Romero, S. H. Mejias, P. Prieto, V. Saggiomo, A. H. Velders, M. L. Soriano, V. Ruiz-Díez, J. Cabanillas-González and M. V. Gomez, J. Mater. Chem. C, 2024, 12, 6027 DOI: 10.1039/D4TC00282B

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