Journal article

Photothermal cellular stimulation in functional bio-polymer interfaces

Hybrid interfaces between organic semiconductors and living tissues represent a new tool for in-vitro and in-vivo applications, bearing a huge potential, from basic researches to clinical applications. In particular, light sensitive conjugated polymers can be exploited as a new approach for optical modulation of cellular activity. In this work we focus on light-induced changes in the membrane potential of Human Embryonic Kidney (HEK-293) cells grown on top of a poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) thin film. On top of a capacitive charging of the polymer interface, we identify and fully characterize two concomitant mechanisms, leading to membrane depolarization and hyperpolarisation, both mediated by a thermal effect. Our results can be usefully exploited in the creation of a new platform for light-controlled cell manipulation, with possible applications in neuroscience and medicine.

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