Light-Tunable Biopolymer Hydrogels

Tech ID: 31751 / UC Case 2020-089-0


On a molecular level, hydrogels are networks of transiently interacting polymers, where the nature and number of these interactions corresponds to macroscale properties. Optoproteins, whose binding state can be controlled with specific wavelengths of light, are a key facilitator for the tunability of current synthetic gels. However, their applications in natural biological polymer gels would be vast.


Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have integrated optoproteins into natural biological polymer gels such that light stimulation will enable changes to macroscale properties of the hydrogel. This technology covalently links optoproteins to targeted loci on biopolymers (collagen, mucin, laminin), resulting in light-driven control of polymer-to-polymer interactions. This platform enables the functionalization of any purified protein with a purified, photo-switchable domain.


  • Implementable in natural gels
  • Rapid response to light stimulus
  • Widely applicable



  • Topical treatments
  • Photo-responsive consumer products
  • Large scale production environments
  • Research equipment


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  • Hopkins, Erik
  • Pitenis, Angela
  • Wilson, Maxwell

Other Information


proteins, optoproteins, light-activated, photo-sensitive, polymer, hydrogel

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