Skip to content

Conjugated polymers for interfacing electronic biomedical devices with living tissue

  • by

Once the stuff of science fiction the ability to wire our bodies directly to electronic devices is now a reality artificial pacemakers cochlear implants and deep brain stimulators have all had an extraordinary impact on the quality of life of thousands of people and as signed to seek new ways to improve how these devices communicate with our bodies the class of

Materials known as conjugated polymers is currently leading the way one of the main problems researchers must overcome in designing bioelectronic implants is properly interfacing rigid electronic devices with the soft tissue in our bodies in terms of device performance the problem is essentially one of poor communication solid electronic devices communicate through

Current by shutting electrons across metallic lines to signal or generate a response living tissue on the other hand communicates through ion movement by sending and receiving larger charge laden molecules across the aqueous channels that cost throughout the body conjugated polymers can effectively bridge this gap because they speak both languages they conduct

Both electrons and ions that’s because unlike more familiar polymers such as polyethylene polyester or nylon conjugated polymers have alternating single and double bonds along the molecular backbone this structure allows electrons to move freely across the links in the polymer chain and when immersed in an aqueous environment this electron flow is compensated by

The flow of ions but conjugated polymers still retain their counterparts ability to be formed into complex shapes and patterns which is crucial for making electronic implants compatible with biological tissue this unique combination of properties is derived directly from the molecular level design of conjugated polymers for example the monomeric units that are

Electro chemically chained together to form polyethylene dioxide iovine or p dot show both high chemical stability and strong electrical conductivity in addition the simple structure of these units provides a versatile template that can be used to tailor polymers to specific biomedical applications by attaching different molecules to each unit for instance or by

Growing a polymer with alternating blocks of p dot and a different polymer researchers can create implant materials that are more or less hydrophobic or that cells might find sticky helping them to grow and mature in fact the entire literature on p dot reads like a rich catalog of designer materials that can help the body accommodate electronic implants p dot can

Be grown in two masses of nano fibrils that can be easily deformed but still retain high conductivity or into more regular mechanically robust micro structures it can even be grown while embedded in another implant material like seats planted in a flower pot p dot precursors can sprout into fireballs within a hydrogel finding upward until they reached the surface

This creates a conductive channel that provides a gentle transition from soft brain tissue to electronic hard way the development of chemically stable and electrically active conjugated polymers has enabled material scientists and engineers to devise creative new ways to interface bionic devices with living tissue continued progress in this multidisciplinary field

Will require researchers to improve the understanding of how these materials behave over extended periods and how they transport charge in the biological environment you

Transcribed from video
Conjugated polymers for interfacing electronic biomedical devices with living tissue By Research Square