The Crucial Role of Cell/Polymer Interface for the Transduction of Action Potentials via Printed Electrolyte-Gated Polymer Field-Effect Transistors
Adrica Kyndiah a, Giulia Zoe Zemignani a b, Luca Sala c d, Gabriele Tullii a, Aleksandr Khudiakov c, Peter J Schwartz c, Gabriel Gomila e, Francesco De Angelis f, Simone Fabiano g, Maria Rosa Antognazza a, Mario Caironi a
a Center for Nano Science and Tecnology, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Via Pascoli 70/3, Milano, Italy
b Department of Physics, Politecnico di Milano, Milan (Italy)
c Istituto Auxologico Italiano IRCCS, Center for Cardiac Arrhythmias of Genetic Origin and Laboratory of Cardiovascular Genetics, Via Pier Lombardo 22, 20135 Milan, Italy
d Department of Biotechnology and Biosciences, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy
e Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), Carrer de Baldiri Reixac, Barcelona, Spain
f Plasmon Nanotechnologies, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Via Morego 30, 16163 Genova, Italy
g Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Department of Science and Technology, Linkoping University, SE-60174, Norrkoping, Sweden.
Proceedings of Bioelectronic Interfaces: Materials, Devices and Applications (CyBioEl)
Limassol, Cyprus, 2024 October 22nd - 25th
Organizers: Eleni Stavrinidou and Achilleas Savva
Oral, Adrica Kyndiah, presentation 028
Publication date: 28th June 2024

Electrolyte Gated Field-Effect Transistors (EGFETs) based on conjugated polymers have emerged as fundamental building blocks in bioelectronics due to their ability to convert weak biological signals into amplified electronic outputs while operating stably in aqueous environment. Conjugated polymers exhibit biocompatibility and ‘soft’ mechanical property thus favouring direct coupling with biological cells, tissues and organs. As such, EGFETs have been used for monitoring cell cultures and for electrophysiological recording of excitable cells such as neurons and cardiac cells. In such applications, cells are directly plated onto the active channel of the transistor that is comprising of an organic polymer coated with a porous protein to enhance cell adhesion. Therefore, ion fluxes due to the electrical activity of the cell such as the Action Potential (AP) is directly coupled to the EGFET resulting in a modulation of the channel conductivity that is measured in transistor current modulation. While it is true that the amplification factor of EGFET has to be maximized to provide large local amplification of the bio- signals, recording the accurate signal of the action potential however goes beyond the device intrinsic electrical parameters. In this context, I will present our latest results where we employed an EGFET made of different conjugated polymers to record the action potential of a 2D layer of human induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-derived Cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs). Interestingly, we observed that depending on the active polymer employed as active channel for the EGFET, the recorded AP has the shape of either an intracellular –like or a Field Potential (FP) as recorded using simple microelectrodes. Surprisingly, an EGFET with a much lower transconductance could transduce the AP signals much more accurately than an EGFET with a large transconductance. This indicates that the electrical coupling between the cell and the transistor channel predominantly relies on the interface between the cell membrane and the polymer at the cleft.

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