Light-controlled graphene-elastin composite hydrogel actuators

Nano Lett. 2013 Jun 12;13(6):2826-30. doi: 10.1021/nl401088b. Epub 2013 May 8.


Hydrogels actuators (HAs) that can reversibly respond to stimuli have applications in diverse fields. However, faster response rates and improved control over actuation timing and location are required to fulfill their potential. To address these criteria, we synthesized near-infrared light-driven HAs by interfacing genetically engineered elastin-like polypeptides with reduced-graphene oxide sheets. The resulting nanocomposites exhibited rapid and tunable motions controlled by light position, intensity, and path, including finger-like flexing and crawling. This work demonstrates the ability of rationally designed proteins to be combined with synthetic nanoparticles for the creation of macroscale functional materials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Elastin / chemistry*
  • Graphite / chemistry*
  • Hydrogels*
  • Light*
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force


  • Hydrogels
  • Graphite
  • Elastin