Integrating multifunctionality such as stretchability, adhesiveness, and electroconductivity on a single protein hydrogel is highly desirable for various applications, and remains a challenge. Here we present the development of such multifunctional hydrogels based on resilin, a natural rubber-like material with remarkable extensibility and resilience. First, genetically engineered reslin-like proteins (RLPs) with varying molecular weight were biosynthesized to tune mechanical strength and stiffness of the cross-linked RLP hydrogels. Second, glycerol was incorporated into the hydrogels to endow adhesive properties. Next, a graphene-RLP conjugate was synthesized for cross-linking with the unmodified, pristine RLP to form an integrated network. The obtained hybrid hydrogel could be stretched to over four times of its original length, and self-adhered to diverse substrate surfaces due to its high adhesion strength of ∼24 kPa. Furthermore, the hybrid hydrogel showed high sensitivity, with a gauge factor of 3.4 at 200% strain, and was capable of real-time monitoring human activities such as finger bending, swallowing, and phonating. Due to these favorable attributes, the graphene/resilin hybrid hydrogel was a promising material for use in wearable sensors. In addition, the above material design and functionalization strategy may provide intriguing opportunities to generate innovative materials for broad applications.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry