Manipulating the Piezoelectric Response of Amino Acid-Based Assemblies by Supramolecular Engineering

Yuehui Wang, Shuaijie Liu, Lingling Li, Hui Li, Yuanyuan Yin, Sigal Rencus-Lazar, Sarah Guerin, Wengen Ouyang, Damien Thompson, Rusen Yang, Kaiyong Cai*, Ehud Gazit*, Wei Ji*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Variation in the molecular architecture significantly affects the electronic and supramolecular structure of biomolecular assemblies, leading to dramatically altered piezoelectric response. However, relationship between molecular building block chemistry, crystal packing and quantitative electromechanical response is still not fully understood. Herein, we systematically explored the possibility to amplify the piezoelectricity of amino acid-based assemblies by supramolecular engineering. We show that a simple change of side-chain in acetylated amino acids leads to increased polarization of the supramolecular arrangements, resulting in significant enhancement of their piezoelectric response. Moreover, compared to most of the natural amino acid assemblies, chemical modification of acetylation increased the maximum piezoelectric tensors. The predicted maximal piezoelectric strain tensor and voltage constant of acetylated tryptophan (L-AcW) assemblies reach 47 pm V-1 and 1719 mV m/N, respectively, comparable to commonly used inorganic materials such as bismuth triborate crystals. We further fabricated an L-AcW crystal-based piezoelectric power nanogenerator that produces a high and stable open-circuit voltage of over 1.4 V under mechanical pressure. For the first time, the illumination of a light-emitting diode (LED) is demonstrated by the power output of an amino acid-based piezoelectric nanogenerator. This work presents the supramolecular engineering toward the systematic modulation of piezoelectric response in amino acid-based assemblies, facilitating the development of high-performance functional biomaterials from simple, readily available, and easily tailored building blocks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15331-15342
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number28
StatePublished - 19 Jul 2023


FundersFunder number
Science Foundation Ireland21/PATH-S/9737, 12/RC/2275_P2
Science Foundation Ireland
National Natural Science Foundation of China52103148, 12102307, cx2021055
National Natural Science Foundation of China
Chongqing University
Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province2021CFB138
Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province
Wuhan University
Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities2042022kf1177
Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities


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