Injectable, Cellular-Scale Optoelectronics with Applications for Wireless Optogenetics

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Science  12 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6129, pp. 211-216
DOI: 10.1126/science.1232437

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The Smaller, the Better

New semiconductor device technology enables injection of light-emitting diodes, silicon devices, actuators, and sensors at precisely controlled locations within biological tissues, such as the brain. Kim et al. (p. 211) show how wireless control of animal models using these technologies and the techniques of optogenetics provide new insights into basic behavioral neuroscience.


Successful integration of advanced semiconductor devices with biological systems will accelerate basic scientific discoveries and their translation into clinical technologies. In neuroscience generally, and in optogenetics in particular, the ability to insert light sources, detectors, sensors, and other components into precise locations of the deep brain yields versatile and important capabilities. Here, we introduce an injectable class of cellular-scale optoelectronics that offers such features, with examples of unmatched operational modes in optogenetics, including completely wireless and programmed complex behavioral control over freely moving animals. The ability of these ultrathin, mechanically compliant, biocompatible devices to afford minimally invasive operation in the soft tissues of the mammalian brain foreshadow applications in other organ systems, with potential for broad utility in biomedical science and engineering.

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