Sub-millisecond control of neuronal firing by organic light-emitting diodes

Bruno F.E. Matarèse, Paul L.C. Feyen, John C. de Mello, Fabio Benfenati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Optogenetics combines optics and genetics to enable minimally invasive cell-type-specific stimulation in living tissue. For the purposes of bio-implantation, there is a need to develop soft, flexible, transparent and highly biocompatible light sources. Organic semiconducting materials have key advantages over their inorganic counterparts, including low Young’s moduli, high strain resistances, and wide color tunability. However, until now it has been unclear whether organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) are capable of providing sufficient optical power for successful neuronal stimulation, while still remaining within a biologically acceptable temperature range. Here we investigate the use of blue polyfluorene-and orange poly(p-phenylenevinylene)-based OLEDs as stimuli for blue-light-activated Sustained Step Function Opsin (SFFO) and red-light-activated ChrimsonR opsin, respectively. We show that, when biased using high frequency (multi-kHz) drive schemes, the OLEDs permit safe and controlled photostimulation of opsin-expressing neurons and were able to control neuronal firing with high temporal-resolution at operating temperatures lower than previously demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number278
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
Issue numberOCT
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Bioelectronics
  • Electrophysiology
  • Neurons
  • Optical stimulation
  • Optogenetics
  • Organic light-emitting diodes
  • Photoexcitation
  • Pulsed-operation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Histology
  • Biomedical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Sub-millisecond control of neuronal firing by organic light-emitting diodes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this