Conference paper

Weaving our way towards a new generation of fibre-optic chemical sensors based on spider silk

From the spider’s perspective, silk is not only a building material but also a safety net, a weapon and a sensory organ to detect the presence of preys on its web. Indeed, this primeval material has been shaped over hundreds of millions of years by spiders to create a myriad of silk fibre types with different level of toughness, elasticity, stickiness depending on its attributed function in the web. From a human perspective, scientists are currently working on harnessing all the extraordinary properties of this material for applications spiders would never thought of, from biocompatible tissue engineering (enhancement of skin regeneration and nerve guides) to biodegradable electronics and development of specialised textile and composites. However, the potential of using spider silk fibre for chemical sensing has been overlooked. In this communication, we will explore the potential of using spider silk as a new type of fibre optic chemical sensor in a fully bio-inspired approach.

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EPFL authors