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Quantum dots-reinforced luminescent silkworm silk with superior mechanical properties and highly stable fluorescence

Cheng, Lan, Zhao, Hongping, Huang, Huiming, Li, Bo, Li, Robert K. Y., Feng, Xi-Qiao, Dai, Fangyin
Journal of materials science 2019 v.54 no.13 pp. 9945-9957
biocompatibility, engineering, fabrics, fluorescence, graphene, insect larvae, photonics, quantum dots, silk, silkworms, strength (mechanics), zinc sulfide
Functional fluorescent silkworm silk holds promise for many important applications in biomedical engineering, optics, and photonics. However, it remains a challenge to obtain fluorescent silk in scale-up with both good mechanical properties and highly stable fluorescence simultaneously. In this work, we report a highly efficient strategy to produce fluorescent silk through directly feeding silkworm larvae with graphene quantum dots or CdSe/ZnS core–shell quantum dots. The obtained quantum dots-reinforced luminescent silkworm silk has superior mechanical strength and toughness, stable fluorescence, and good biocompatibility in comparison with the normal or fluorescent dye-colored silk. The strategy proposed in this work is environmental and economical and, also importantly, can generate superior luminescent silks in large scale. This study also provides possible cues for fabricating durable, fluorescent microdevices, and fabrics.