Adv. Mater. doi:10.1002/adma.200903166 (2010)

Silk proteins called fibroins have potential uses in a variety of devices thanks to their favourable optical and mechanical properties. Now Fiorenzo Omenetto at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and his colleagues have stamped patterns into these proteins using a rapid nanometre-scale imprinting process.

Silk fibroin usually takes many hours to cast into patterns, but the nanoimprinting technique, which presses the material into a mould at low pressure and room temperature, takes just seconds to minutes.

Tests of a patterned film of the silk protein in an optofluidic sensing device showed that the protein's stability enabled repeated use of the device, even after several months of storage.