Dr. Wenwen Huang's lab published collaborative research in PNAS


On June 23, 2020, Prof. Wenwen Huang’s lab published their collaborative research on bioinspired actuators in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). This research provides a novel approach to build smart biocompatible actuators for in vivo biomedical soft robotics and bionic devices.


Figure. Schematic of the fabrication of thermo-responsive and ionic strength responsive SELP/CNF actuators.

About this research article:
‘Smart’ stimuli-responsive materials, which are sensitive to environmental triggers or biological signals, are appealing platforms for the development of biomedical devices. However, most smart materials are synthetic polymers that are not biocompatible and biodegradable, limiting their use in vivo. 
In this study, the researchers at ZJE and Tufts designed and built a new class of bionic actuator entirely out of biocompatible and biodegradable materials, using genetically engineered silk–elastin-like proteins (SELPs) and cellulose nanofibers (CNFs). Programmable and reversible deformations in response to the stimuli have been achieved with the SELP/CNF actuator. This novel bioinspired actuator can provide an avenue to customized responsiveness toward applications for in vivo biomedical devices. 


Movie. The transformation process of the SELP/CNF actuators over time in 1M NaCl solutions at room temperature.

Link of this article:

About Huang Lab:
Huang lab focuses on predictive design, synthesis and functionalization of protein-based biomaterials for regenerative medicine and sustainable technology innovations. The ultimate goal of the lab is to advance the basic research in biomedical science, promote sustainable technologies, and translate biomaterials to the clinic.
Home page of Prof. Wenwen Huang: