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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. | doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2019.00278


  • 1Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
  • 2Italian Institute of Technology, Italy

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.

Keywords: Organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), optogenetics, Optical stimulation, bioelectronics, Electrophysiology, pulsed-operation, Neurons, photoexcitation

Received: 07 Jul 2019; Accepted: 03 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Matarese, Feyen, de Mello and Benfenati. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Fabio Benfenati, Italian Institute of Technology, Genoa, Italy,