Precise Protein Photolithography (P3): High Performance Biopatterning Using Silk Fibroin Light Chain as the Resist

W. Liu, Z. Zhou, S. Zhang, Z. Shi, J. Tabarini, W. Lee, Y. Zhang, S. N. G. Corder, X. Li, F. Dong, L. Cheng, M. Liu, D. L. Kaplan, F. G. Omenetto, G. Zhang, Y. Mao, T. H. Tao

Adv. Sci. 4, 1799191 (2017)
Precise patterning of biomaterials has widespread applications, including drug release, degradable implants, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine. Patterning of protein-based microstructures using UV-photolithography has been demonstrated using protein as the resist material. The Achilles heel of existing protein-based biophotoresists is the inevitable wide molecular weight distribution during the protein extraction/regeneration process, hindering their practical uses in the semiconductor industry where reliability and repeatability are paramount. A wafer-scale high resolution patterning of bio-microstructures using well-defined silk fibroin light chain as the resist material is presented showing unprecedent performances. The lithographic and etching performance of silk fibroin light chain resists are evaluated systematically and the underlying mechanisms are thoroughly discussed. The micropatterned silk structures are tested as cellular substrates for the successful spatial guidance of fetal neural stems cells seeded on the patterned substrates. The enhanced patterning resolution, the improved etch resistance, and the inherent biocompatibility of such protein-based photoresist provide new opportunities in fabricating large scale biocompatible functional microstructures.