Viscoelastic Conductive Materials Interface with the Nervous System

Electrically conductive, viscoelastic materials (left) have been fabricated from alginate polymer (blue) with conductive carbon nanomaterials such as graphene flakes (GF, gray squares) and/or carbon nanotubes (CNT, black lines). These materials promote differentiation of neural progenitor cells (right) into a range of relevant cell types for interfacing with the nervous system. Scale bar: 450 µm

Soft viscoelastic materials have been designed and fabricated to both mimic the mechanical properties of brain tissue and conduct electricity. These materials can be interfaced with neural cells, including stem and progenitor cells and direct their differentiation into networks.

This work provides a new system to study how cells in the brain form networks. Such materials may also be used as electrodes in devices implanted in the brain in order to record electrical activity or provide electrical stimulation. This technology may ultimately allow for the creation of biohydrid neural interfaces and living electrodes.

A soft, stimulating scaffold supports brain cell development ex vivo

Tringides, C.M., M. Boulingre, A. Khalil, T. Lungjangwa, R. Jaenisch, and D.J. Mooney, "Tunable conductive hydrogel scaffolds for neural cell differentiation," Advanced Healthcare Materials 12 (7), 2202221 (2023) open url in new window

David J. Mooney (Bioengineering),
A. Khalil (Harvard, MIT), and R. Jaenish (MIT)
2022-2023 Harvard MRSEC (DMR-2011754)