Current bioelectronic medicines for neurological therapies generally involve treatment with a bioelectronic system comprising a power supply unit and a bioelectrode device. Further integration of wireless and self-powered units is of practical importance for implantable bioelectronics. In this study, we developed biocompatible organic photovoltaics (OPVs) for serving as wireless electrical power supply units that can be operated under illumination with near-infrared (NIR) light, and organic bioelectronic interface (OBEI) electrode devices as neural stimulation electrodes. The OPV/OBEI integrated system is capable to provide electrical stimulation (ES) as a means of enhancing neuron-like PC12 cell differentiation and neurite outgrowth. For the OPV design, we prepared devices incorporating two photoactive material systems - β-carotene/N,N′-dioctyl-3,4,9,10-perylenedicarboximide (β-carotene/PTCDI-C8) and poly(3-hexylthiophene)/phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (P3HT/PCBM) - that exhibited open circuit voltages of 0.11 and 0.49 V, respectively, under NIR light LED (NLED) illumination. Then, we connected OBEI devices with different electrode gaps, incorporating biocompatible poly(hydroxymethylated-3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene), to OPVs to precisely tailor the direct current electric field conditions during the culturing of PC12 cells. This NIR light-driven OPV/OBEI system could be engineered to provide tunable control over the electric field (from 220 to 980 mV mm-1) to promote 64% enhancement in the neurite length, direct the neurite orientation on chips, or both. The OPV/OBEI integrated systems under NIR illumination appear to function as effective power delivery platforms that should meet the requirements for wirelessly offering medical ES to a portion of the nervous system; they might also be a key technology for the development of next-generation implantable bioelectronics.
- bioelectronic medicines
- electrical stimulation
- organic bioelectronic interfaces
- organic photovoltaics