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Acc Chem Res. 2018 Feb 20;51(2):309-318. doi: 10.1021/acs.accounts.7b00547. Epub 2018 Jan 30.

Mesh Nanoelectronics: Seamless Integration of Electronics with Tissues.

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Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and ‡Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University , Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, United States.


Nanobioelectronics represents a rapidly developing field with broad-ranging opportunities in fundamental biological sciences, biotechnology, and medicine. Despite this potential, seamless integration of electronics has been difficult due to fundamental mismatches, including size and mechanical properties, between the elements of the electronic and living biological systems. In this Account, we discuss the concept, development, key demonstrations, and future opportunities of mesh nanoelectronics as a general paradigm for seamless integration of electronics within synthetic tissues and live animals. We first describe the design and realization of hybrid synthetic tissues that are innervated in three dimensions (3D) with mesh nanoelectronics where the mesh serves as both as a tissue scaffold and as a platform of addressable electronic devices for monitoring and manipulating tissue behavior. Specific examples of tissue/nanoelectronic mesh hybrids highlighted include 3D neural tissue, cardiac patches, and vascular constructs, where the nanoelectronic devices have been used to carry out real-time 3D recording of electrophysiological and chemical signals in the tissues. This novel platform was also exploited for time-dependent 3D spatiotemporal mapping of cardiac tissue action potentials during cell culture and tissue maturation as well as in response to injection of pharmacological agents. The extension to simultaneous real-time monitoring and active control of tissue behavior is further discussed for multifunctional mesh nanoelectronics incorporating both recording and stimulation devices, providing the unique capability of bidirectional interfaces to cardiac tissue. In the case of live animals, new challenges must be addressed, including minimally invasive implantation, absence of deleterious chronic tissue response, and long-term capability for monitoring and modulating tissue activity. We discuss each of these topics in the context of implantation of mesh nanoelectronics into rodent brains. First, we describe the design of ultraflexible mesh nanoelectronics with size features and mechanical properties similar to brain tissue and a novel syringe-injection methodology that allows the mesh nanoelectronics to be precisely delivered to targeted brain regions in a minimally invasive manner. Next, we discuss time-dependent histology studies showing seamless and stable integration of mesh nanoelectronics within brain tissue on at least one year scales without evidence of chronic immune response or glial scarring characteristic of conventional implants. Third, armed with facile input/output interfaces, we describe multiplexed single-unit recordings that demonstrate stable tracking of the same individual neurons and local neural circuits for at least 8 months, long-term monitoring and stimulation of the same groups of neurons, and following changes in individual neuron activity during brain aging. Moving forward, we foresee substantial opportunities for (1) continued development of mesh nanoelectronics through, for example, broadening nanodevice signal detection modalities and taking advantage of tissue-like properties for selective cell targeting and (2) exploiting the unique capabilities of mesh nanoelectronics for tackling critical scientific and medical challenges such as understanding and potentially ameliorating cell and circuit level changes associated with natural and pathological aging, as well as using mesh nanoelectronics as active tissue scaffolds for regenerative medicine and as neuroprosthetics for monitoring and treating neurological diseases.

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