Organic neuromorphic biointerfaces
Francesca Santoro a b c
a Institute of Biological Information Processing IBI-3, Forschungszentrum Juelich, Germany
b Neuroelectronic Interfaces, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and IT, RWTH Aachen, Germany
c Tissue Electronics Lab, Italian Institute of Technology, 80125, Italy
Proceedings of Bioelectronic Interfaces: Materials, Devices and Applications (CyBioEl)
Limassol, Cyprus, 2024 October 22nd - 25th
Organizers: Eleni Stavrinidou and Achilleas Savva
Invited Speaker, Francesca Santoro, presentation 047
Publication date: 28th June 2024

The replication of neural information processing in electrical devices has been extensively studied over the years. The paradigm of parallel computing, which allows information to be simultaneously detected, processed, and stored, is required for numerous applications in many fields. In the case of brain-computer interfaces, another important requirement is the suitability of the device for communication with cells. Organic electrochemical transistors (OECTs) based on PEDOT:PSS are used for this purpose due to their ionic-to-electronic signal transduction and biocompatibility. Many works have demonstrated the reproduction of neural plasticity mechanisms, such as short-term facilitation and long-term potentiation. In each device, the physical mechanism of transduction may be different, but it is known that the electrolyte plays a key role in the functioning of these devices, as it provides the ions responsible for the chemical transmission of information. Focusing on long-term memory, this can be reproduced in the OECTs with the oxidation of the neurotransmitter, as in the case of the biohybrid synapse. It is crucial to understand the influence of the material chemistry, electrolyte composition and neurotransmitter-mediated memory effect of the device, as long-term modulation is based on a change in the ionic balance between the electrolyte and the organic polymer.

This electrolyte composition (i.e., bioegel) and neurotransmitter-dependency plasticity will be discussed also to consider the use of neuromorphic OECTs to be interfaced with living neurons to establish biohybrid synapses and neuronal networks. In fact, neurohybrid interfaces can be achieved through bidirectional closed loop communication with various neurotransmitters such us dopamine and glutamate.

Furthermore, I will discuss how conjugated polymers can be engineered with azopolymers (opto-sensitive polymers which switch from cis to trans conformation upon certain light exposure) to feature diverse optoelectronic short- and long-term plasticity, enabling the use of creating functional biointerfaces with living neurons. In fact, conductive polymers and light-sensitive surface coating can also enable electromechanical coupling with neuronal cells, enhancing the cell-chip coupling at different scales. These biomimetic materials will enable a new class of bioelectronic device used for neuronal interfaces towards their application in implantable probes.

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