A hybrid P3HT-Graphene interface for efficient photostimulation of neurons

Mattia L. DiFrancesco, Elisabetta Colombo, Ermanno D. Papaleo, Giovanni Manfredi, Guglielmo Lanzani, Fabio Benfenati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Graphene conductive properties have been long exploited in the field of organic photovoltaics and optoelectronics by the scientific community worldwide. We engineered and characterized a hybrid biointerface in which graphene is coupled with photosensitive polymers, and tested its ability to elicit light-triggered neural activity modulation in primary neurons and blind retina explants. We designed such a graphene-based device by modifying a photoactive P3HT-based retinal interface, previously reported to rescue light sensitivity in blind rodents, with a CVD graphene layer replacing the conductive PEDOT:PSS layer to enhance charge separation. The new graphene-based device was characterized for its electrochemical features and for the ability to photostimulate primary neurons and blind retina explants, while preserving biocompatibility. Light-triggered responses, recorded by patch-clamp in vitro or MEA ex vivo, show a stronger light-transduction efficiency when the neurons are interfaced with the graphene-based device with respect to the PEDOT:PSS-based one. The possibility to ameliorate flexible photo-stimulating devices via the insertion of graphene, paves the way for potential biomedical applications of graphene-based neuronal interfaces in the context of retinal implants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-317
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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