Hybrid interfaces between living cells and nanosensors
Francesco De Angelis a
a Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, via Morego 30, Genova, IT-16163 Italy
Proceedings of Bioelectronic Interfaces: Materials, Devices and Applications (CyBioEl)
Limassol, Cyprus, 2024 October 22nd - 25th
Organizers: Eleni Stavrinidou and Achilleas Savva
Invited Speaker, Francesco De Angelis, presentation 032
Publication date: 28th June 2024

The ability to interact with electrogenic cells and to monitor their status plays a pivotal role in neuroscience, pharmacology and cell biology. We deeply investigated both theoretically and experimentally the interactions of nanostructured surface sensors with living cells such human neurons and cardiomyocytes. The aim is to make an effective interface between the intracellular compartment and different class of nano-sensors including optical sensors for plasmonic enhanced spectroscopies, nanostructured electrodes for electrical measurements and, nano-needles for intracellular delivery or sampling [1,2,3]. In this talk we will revise our strategy to sense intracellular activities with a focus on electrical activities. In this regard, we developed a method for opening transient nanopores into the cell membrane with no side effect [1]. After the membrane poration the tip of the sensor is in direct contact with the intracellular compartment thus enabling intracellular investigations which include Raman traces of biomolecules, electrical recording of action potentials of human neurons and cardiomyocytes. We demonstrated the possibility of non-invasively testing the effect of relevant drugs on human cells with particular regard of cardio-toxicity that is a fundamental step before the clinical trials [4,5]. Still in this context, we introduced a radically new concept for monitoring action potentials. It bases on the concept of “mirror charge” in classical electrodynamics (figure 1): electric charges placed in proximity of a conductor affect its spatial charge distribution thus generating mirror charges into the conductor itself. Hence, by monitoring the dynamics of the mirror charges one can monitor the dynamics of the “source charges” and the related electric potential, i.e. the action potential [6,7,8]. However, being the dyes placed in microfluidic chip, separated from the cell culture, the cells are subjected neither to dye contact, nor to direct light illumination, but are in a perfectly unperturbed physiological state. Remarkably, the optical signal perfectly resembles an action potential even without the need of cell membrane poration as for conventional electrical recording.


This project received support from the European Community under the program Horizon 2020 (FET Open Project Tox-Free grant agreement n° 964518).

We use our own and third party cookies for analysing and measuring usage of our website to improve our services. If you continue browsing, we consider accepting its use. You can check our Cookies Policy in which you will also find how to configure your web browser for the use of cookies. More info