Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Chemical and Life Science Engineering

First Advisor

Vamsi K. Yadavalli


Naturally sourced, renewable biomaterials possess outstanding advantages for a multitude of biomedical applications owing to their biodegradability, biocompatibility, and excellent mechanical properties. Of interest in this dissertation are silk (protein) and chitin (polysaccharide) biopolymers for the fabrication of functional biodevices. One of the major challenges restricting these materials beyond their traditional usage as passive substrate materials is the ability to combine them with high-resolution fabrication techniques. Initial research work is directed towards the fabrication of micropatterned, flexible 2D substrates of silk fibroin and chitin using bench-top photolithographic techniques. Research is focused on imparting electrochemical properties to silk proteins using conducting polymers (PEDOT: PSS and PANI) and a naturally occurring semiconductor, eumelanin. The utility of conducting biomimetic composites in device applications was demonstrated by the fabrication of fully organic silk based flexible electrochemical biosensors. The biosensors display excellent detection of dopamine and ascorbic acid with high sensitivity. A flexible silk-PEDOT: PSS based temperature sensor is also demonstrated for the accurate monitoring of skin surface temperature. Finally, the challenge of conformability at the biological interface is addressed using structure-based design strategies. Inspiration from the Japanese art of paper cutting was taken for the formation of patterned cuts on silk fibroin films using photolithography. Micropatterned cuts can increase the conformability of films to soft biological interfaces by enhancing their strain tolerance. By doping with polyaniline (PANI), flexible, intrinsically conductive silk kirigami sheets could be fabricated. Such systems have potential in personalized healthcare monitoring devices, improving efficient disease detection and diagnosis.


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