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Transient energy supply remains one of the key challenges limiting the development of transient implantable medical devices for monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases within a predetermined time frame. A key feature of such devices is their controllable degradation during service life. An on-board transient energy supply with predictable performance over time is required to drive transient electronics. In this article, we present recent advances in the development of materials for biodegradable energy-storage devices (batteries and supercapacitors) and biodegradable energy-harvesting systems (enzymatic biofuel cells and triboelectric nanogenerators). Future perspectives, challenges, and opportunities related to energy materials for transient power sources will also be summarized.
To gain a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of neurological disease, relevant tissue models are imperative. Over the years, this realization has fuelled the development of novel tools and platforms, which aim at capturing in vivo complexity. One example is the field of biofabrication, which focuses on fabrication of three-dimensional (3D) biologically functional products in a controlled and automated manner. Herein, we provide a general overview of classical 3D cell culture platforms, particularly in the context of neurodegenerative disease. Subsequently, the focus is put on bioprinting-based biofabrication, its potential to advance 3D neuronal cell culture and, to conclude, the relevant translational bottlenecks, which will need to be considered as the field evolves.
We report on a hand-held reactive printing device used to pattern highly
conductive, edible hydrogel wires formed from gellan gum, gelatin, cross-linkers
and a common salt (NaCl). The conductivity of the gels when printed (190
± 20 mS/cm) closely matched the conductivity recorded for cast systems
(200 ± 19 mS/cm). Printing was observed to reduce the elastic modulus
and failure strains of hydrogels under compression, but printed gels retained
sufficient integrity for application as flexible conductive lines. We
demonstrate that hand-held printing can utilize to pattern soft conductor
elements within a simple electronic circuit.
Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) is an organic conducting polymer that has been the focus of significant research over the last decade, in both energy and biological applications. Most commonly, PEDOT is doped by the artificial polymer polystyrene sulfonate due to the excellent electrical characteristics yielded by this pairing. The biopolymer dextran sulphate (DS) has been recently reported as a promising alternative to PEDOT:PSS for biological application, having electrical properties rivaling PEDOT:PSS, complimented by the potential bioactivity of the polysaccharide. In this work we compared chemical and electrochemical polymerisations of PEDOT:DS in terms of their impact on the electrical, morphological and biological properties of the resultant PEDOT:DS films. Post-growth cyclic voltammograms and UV-Vis analyses revealed comparable redox behaviour and absorbance profiles for the two synthesis approaches. Despite good intrinsic conductivity of particles, the addition of chemically produced PEDOT:DS did not markedly enhance the bulk conductivity of aqueous solutions due to the lack of interconnectivity between adjacent PEDOT:DS particles at achievable concentrations. Scanning electron microscopy revealed significantly greater roughness in films cast from chemically produced PEDOT:DS compared to electropolymerised samples, attributable to the formation of solution phase nanoparticles prior to casting. In cell studies with the L929 cell line, electrochemical polymerisation of PEDOT:DS afforded better integrity of resultant films for surface seeding, whilst chemically polymerised PEDOT:DS appeared to localised at the proliferating cells, suggesting possible applications in drug delivery.
Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) was polymerized with the biological dopants dextran sulphate and chondroitin sulphate. Polymer physical and mechanical properties were investigated using quartz crystal microgravimetry with dissipation monitoring and atomic force microscopy, revealing polymer shear modulus and interfacial roughness to be significantly altered as a function of the dopant species. The adsorption of fibronectin, an important extracellular protein that is critical for a range of cellular functions and processes, was investigated using QCM-D, revealing protein adsorption to be increased on the DS doped PEDOT film relative to the CS doped film. PEDOT films have traditionally been doped with synthetic counterions such as polystyrene sulphonate (PSS), however the incorporation of biological molecules as the counterion, which has been shown to improve polymer biofunctionality, has received far less attention. In particular, there has been little detailed study on the impact of incorporating polyelectrolyte biomolecules into the PEDOT polymer matrix on fundamental polymer properties which are critical for biomedical applications. This investigation provides a detailed characterization of the interfacial and mechanical properties of biologically doped PEDOT films, as well as the efficacy of the composite films to bind and retain extracellular proteins of the type that are critical to the biocompatibility of the polymeric material.
A method for simply and controllably modifying the surface of polyaniline nanofibres is described. The technique can be used to attach substituents bearing both acid and amine functional groups, making the materials suitable for further modification. Acid/amine functionalisation is achieved by a simple reflux reaction and therefore is a quick and easily scalable process. The modified nanofibres maintain their ability to switch between different states displaying distinctly different properties, thus making them suitable for adaptive sensing applications. As an example, we demonstrate how biomolecules can be attached to these functionalised nanofibres, to produce conducting polymer-based biosensors.
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with macroscopically ordered structures (e.g., aligned or patterned mats, fibers, and sheets) and associated large surface areas have proven promising as new CNT electroactive polymer materials (CNT-EAPs) for the development of advanced chemical and biological sensors. The functionalization of CNTs with many biological species to gain specific surface characteristics and to facilitate electron transfer to and from them for chemical- and bio-sensing applications is an area of intense research activity.
Mechanical actuation generated by CNT-EAPs is another exciting electroactive function provided by these versatile materials. Controlled mechanical deformation for actuation has been demonstrated in CNT mats, fibers, sheets, and individual nanotubes. This article summarizes the current status and technological challenges for the development of electrochemical sensors and electromechanical actuators based on carbon nanotube electroactive materials.
Reversible actuation strains in excess of 2% in the sheet direction and over 300% in the thickness direction have been produced by single wall carbon nanotube mats when electrochemically charged to +1.5V (vs. SCE) in aqueous sodium chloride solution. The observed strains represent a ten-fold increase over that previously reported for carbon nanotube actuators, and is considerably larger than that achievable with polymer ferroelectric actuators. The enhanced actuator strains result from a new mechanism of electrochemically induced “pnuematic actuation” where high pressure gas forms within the porous structure of the nanotube mat causing partial delamination and swelling. An erasable “memory” effect was also observed for pneumatic actuation driven by hydrogen gas evolution/storage in the nanotube electrodes.
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