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Event Details

  • Wednesday, February 27, 2019
  • 11:15 - 11:45

Polymeric bioelectronic materials for neural interfacing and regenerative engineering

Direct measurement and stimulation of ionic, biomolecular, cellular, and tissue-scale activity is a staple of bioelectronic diagnosis and/or therapy. Such bi-directional interfacing can be enhanced by a unique set of properties imparted by organic electronic materials. These materials, based on conjugated polymers, can be adapted for use in biological settings and show significant molecular-level interaction with their local environment, readily swell, and provide soft, seamless mechanical matching with tissue. At the same time, their swelling and mixed conduction allows for enhanced ionic-electronic coupling for transduction of biosignals. These properties serve to enable new capabilities in bioelectronics. In the first part of my talk I will focus on the design of polymer bioelectronic materials for enhanced electrophysiological sensors based on electrochemical transistors. Synthetic design and processing can yield stable and high performance mixed conductors with high volumetric capacity, high transconductance, and steep subthreshold switching characteristics for low power sensing. I demonstrate their use in human EEG sensing as a test case. I will then discuss the unique form factors enabled by polymer electronics, and the development of conducting hydrogels for applications in regenerative engineering. The composite hydrogel shows osteoinductive effects on cultured rat primary bone marrow stromal cells in vitro. These results are promising towards passive and active bone growth stimulation for healing non-union fractures and spinal fusion. The applications highlighted demonstrate the versatility of polymer-based bioelectronics, including their ability to amplify low-lying biosignals, and their non-conventional form factors. New materials design will continue to fill critical need gaps for challenging problems in bioelectronic interfacing.