Simple Sol-Gel Protein Stabilization toward Rainbow and White Lighting Devices

David Gutiérrez-Armayor, Youssef Atoini, Daniel Van Opdenbosch, Cordt Zollfrank, Mattia Nieddu, Rubén D. Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fluorescent proteins (FPs) are heralded as a paradigm of sustainable materials for photonics/optoelectronics. However, their stabilization under non-physiological environments and/or harsh operation conditions is the major challenge. Among the FP-stabilization methods, classical sol-gel is the most effective, but less versatile, as most of the proteins/enzymes are easily degraded due to the need of multi-step processes, surfactants, and mixed water/organic solvents in extreme pH. Herein, sol-gel chemistry with archetypal FPs (mGreenLantern; mCherry) is revisited, simplifying the method by one-pot, surfactant-free, and aqueous media (phosphate buffer saline pH = 7.4). The synthesis mechanism involves the direct reaction of the carboxylic groups at the FP surface with the silica precursor, generating a positively charged FP intermediate that acts as a seed for the formation of size-controlled mesoporous FP@SiO2 nanoparticles. Green-/red-emissive (single-FP component) and dual-emissive (multi-FPs component; kinetic studies not required) FP@SiO2 are prepared without affecting the FP photoluminescence and stabilities (>6 months) under dry storage and organic solvent suspensions. Finally, FP@SiO2 color filters are applied to rainbow and white bio-hybrid light-emitting diodes featuring up to 15-fold enhanced stabilities without reducing luminous efficacy compared to references with native FPs. Overall, an easy, versatile, and effective FP-stabilization method is demonstrated in FP@SiO2 toward sustainable protein lighting.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvanced Materials
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • fluorescent protein coatings
  • hybrid silica nanoparticles
  • protein lighting devices
  • protein stabilization
  • sol-gel methodology


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