Darren Lipomi1

1, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, United States

The goal of this project is to create a class of electronic materials that can measure signals and interface with the nervous system for two-way communication with biological systems. The project is exploring two classes of materials. (1) Metallic nanoislands on single-layer graphene for cellular electrophysiology and wearable sensors. We have used these materials to measure the forces produced by the contractions of cardiomyocytes using a piezoresistive mechanism. Separately, we have developed orthogonal methods of stimulating myoblast cells electrically while measuring the contractions optically (a modality we nicknamed as “piezoplasmonic”). We have also used these sensors to measure the swallowing activity of head-and-neck cancer patients who have received radiation therapy and are at risk of dysphagia arising from fibrosis of the swallowing muscles. The combination of strain sensing, surface electromyography, and machine learning can be used to measure the degree of dysphagia. (2) We have developed ionically conductive organogels for haptic feedback. Medical haptic technology has myriad potential applications, from robotic surgery and surgical training, to tactile therapy for premature infants and patients with neurological impairment.