Thallhamer, 2022

2022 - 12/08/2022 Sci Adv

Distributed interfacing by nanoscale photodiodes enables single-neuron light activation and sensory enhancement in 3D spinal explants.

Thalhammer A, Fontanini M, Shi J, Scaini D, Recupero L, Evtushenko A, Fu Y, Pavagada S, Bistrovic-Popov A, Fruk L, Tian B, Ballerini L.


Among emerging technologies developed to interface neuronal signaling, engineering electrodes at the nanoscale would yield more precise biodevices opening to progress in neural circuit investigations and to new therapeutic potential. Despite remarkable progress in miniature electronics for less invasive neurostimulation, most nano-enabled, optically triggered interfaces are demonstrated in cultured cells, which precludes the studies of natural neural circuits. We exploit here free-standing silicon-based nanoscale photodiodes to optically modulate single, identified neurons in mammalian spinal cord explants. With near-infrared light stimulation, we show that activating single excitatory or inhibitory neurons differently affects sensory circuits processing in the dorsal horn. We successfully functionalize nano-photodiodes to target single molecules, such as glutamate AMPA receptor subunits, thus enabling light activation of specific synaptic pathways. We conclude that nano-enabled neural interfaces can modulate selected sensory networks with low invasiveness. The use of nanoscale photodiodes can thus provide original perspective in linking neural activity to specific behavioral outcome.


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