optics and photonics

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We study the use of silk as an optical material for applications in biomedical engineering, photonics and nanophotonics.

Silk can be nanopatterned with features smaller than 20 nm. This allows manufacturing of structures  such as (among others) holographic gratings, phase masks, beam diffusers and photonic crystals out of a pure protein film. The properties of silk allow these devices to be "biologically activated" offering new opportunities for sensing and biophotonic components. 

Optical devices can be fabricated by doping silk films with fluorescent materials by simple mixing  (examples are quantum dots -shown here, laser dyes, nanodiamonds, ).  We explore ways to design devices by patterning the silk film surfaces, as well as making tunable wavelength devices and printing specific patterns on silk film surfaces.

silk nanopatterned optics

Silk fibers produced in our lab are most notable for fitting the length scales that are relevant for single and multimode fibers (10-100 μm) and take shape without the use of any harsh solvents. As such, they can define a biomimetic artificial spinneret and be used for clinical imaging and diagnostics .

biopolymer fiber optics and waveguides

optically active biopolymers

photonic crystals

Diffractive structures on the nanoscale can be manufactured in silk.  Simple doping allows for easy fabrication of nanostructures with optical gain, fluorescence, or plasmonic nano-optics.