Stimuli-Responsive Genetically Engineered Polymer Hydrogel Demonstrates Emergent Optical Responses

Eva Rose M. Balog, Koushik Ghosh, Young Il Park, Vaughn Hartung, Prakash Sista, Reginaldo C. Rocha, Hsing Lin Wang, Jennifer S. Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Biopolymer-based optical hydrogels represent an emerging class of materials with potential applications in biocompatible integrated optoelectronic devices, bioimaging applications, and stretchable/flexible photonics. We have synthesized stimuli-responsive three-dimensional hydrogels from genetically engineered elastin-like polymers (ELPs) and have loaded these hydrogels with an amine-containing p-phenylenevinylene oligomer (OPPV) derivative featuring highly tunable, environmentally sensitive optical properties. The composite ELP/OPPV hydrogels exhibit both pH- and temperature-dependent fluorescence emission, from which we have characterized a unique optical behavior that emerged from OPPV within the hydrogel environment. By systematic comparison with free OPPV in solution, our results suggest that this distinct behavior is due to local electronic effects arising from interactions between the hydrophobic ELP microenvironment and the nonprotonated OPPV species at pH 7 or higher.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1135-1142
Number of pages8
JournalACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 11 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • composite material
  • conjugated oligomer
  • genetically encoded
  • optically active material
  • photoluminescence
  • polymeric material
  • stimuli-responsive material

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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