Molecular engineering of piezoelectricity in collagen-mimicking peptide assemblies

Santu Bera, Sarah Guerin, Hui Yuan, Joseph O’Donnell, Nicholas P. Reynolds, Oguzhan Maraba, Wei Ji, Linda J.W. Shimon, Pierre Andre Cazade, Syed A.M. Tofail, Damien Thompson*, Rusen Yang*, Ehud Gazit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Realization of a self-assembled, nontoxic and eco-friendly piezoelectric device with high-performance, sensitivity and reliability is highly desirable to complement conventional inorganic and polymer based materials. Hierarchically organized natural materials such as collagen have long been posited to exhibit electromechanical properties that could potentially be amplified via molecular engineering to produce technologically relevant piezoelectricity. Here, by using a simple, minimalistic, building block of collagen, we fabricate a peptide-based piezoelectric generator utilising a radically different helical arrangement of Phe-Phe-derived peptide, Pro-Phe-Phe and Hyp-Phe-Phe, based only on proteinogenic amino acids. The simple addition of a hydroxyl group increases the expected piezoelectric response by an order of magnitude (d35 = 27 pm V−1). The value is highest predicted to date in short natural peptides. We demonstrate tripeptide-based power generator that produces stable max current >50 nA and potential >1.2 V. Our results provide a promising device demonstration of computationally-guided molecular engineering of piezoelectricity in peptide nanotechnology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2634
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021


FundersFunder number
H2020 European Research Council
European Research Council
Science Foundation Ireland12/RC/ 2275, 15/CDA/3491
National Natural Science Foundation of China51973170
Tel Aviv University
Horizon 2020BISON-694426
Irish Centre for High-End Computing


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