OBOETTE ion pump

ExpertiseBioelectronics

Bioelectronics

Bioelectronics is a rather new research field and the idea is to establish synergies between electronics and biology. Cells communicate with each other using ion currents at different frequencies and organic electronics can use both ions and electrons as charge carriers and are therefore useful as transducers between biology and electronics. RISE Acreo is working together with Linköping University and Karolinska Institutet to develop a set of Bioelectronic components and corresponding manufacturing routes. Examples include electronically switchable (bio-)surfaces for cell growth and ion pumps for cell communication, the latter is shown in the photograph.

The materials intended to be used in organic bioelectronics are molecules or polymers such as electronic and/or ionic conducting polymers and proteins. These materials can all be dissolved in common solvents which allow them to be deposited using conventional coating or printing techniques to reach low cost applications. With common printing techniques dimensions around 100µm can be reached. If dimensions smaller than 100µm are desired, common photolithography processes can be used.

Electronic and ionic conductivity

One reason to why organic electronics is suitable to be used in studying biology is that different signal carriers, such as ions and molecules in addition to electrons, can be used in the devices. The most famous conducting polymer is PEDOT:PSS and has been used in many different applications such as transistors, light emitting diodes, solar cells, electrochemical devices and bioelectronic devices. PEDOT:PSS is a combination of the conjugated polymer poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) and the poly(styrenesulfonate) (PSS) and shows excellent electronic and ionic conductivity.
One benefit with electrochemical devices is that they use both ions and electrons when switched between different redox states. In a simplistic picture, the ionic current in the electrolyte in contact with an electrode consisting of a conducting polymer can be used to modulate the electronic conductivity of the electrode. Since cells communicate with each other using oscillations of ions at different frequencies, organic electronics can be used to translate electronic signals into ionic signals and thereby be used to communicate with cells.
The materials used in organic bioelectronics are molecules or polymers such as electronic and/or ionic conducting polymers and proteins. These materials can all be dissolved in common solvents which allow them to be deposited using conventional coating or printing techniques to reach low cost applications. With common printing techniques dimensions around 100µm can be reached. If dimensions smaller than 100µm are desired, common photolithography processes can be used.

Finding answer to long standing questions in biology

Acreo works together with Linköping University and Karolinska Institutet to develop an organic bioelectronics platform of tools. The co-operation combines the competences in the field of organic electronics and the materials used in the field with the expertise in the field of cell and molecular biology, neurobiology and stem cell research. The aim of the platform is to find tools that will make it possible to find answers to questions in biology related to cell signaling, stem cells and neural interconnects. The project where this is performed is called Organic BiOElectronics (OBOE) and is funded by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) and Vinnova. The center director is Professor Magnus Berggren at Linköping University.

Read more about OBOE

People

Göran Gustafsson
Department Manager
+46 (0)705 82 29 04
goran.gustafsson [at] ri.se