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Macroporous nanowire nanoelectronic scaffolds for synthetic tissues


The development of three-dimensional (3D) synthetic biomaterials as structural and bioactive scaffolds is central to fields ranging from cellular biophysics to regenerative medicine. As of yet, these scaffolds cannot electrically probe the physicochemical and biological microenvironments throughout their 3D and macroporous interior, although this capability could have a marked impact in both electronics and biomaterials. Here, we address this challenge using macroporous, flexible and free-standing nanowire nanoelectronic scaffolds (nanoES), and their hybrids with synthetic or natural biomaterials. 3D macroporous nanoES mimic the structure of natural tissue scaffolds, and they were formed by self-organization of coplanar reticular networks with built-in strain and by manipulation of 2D mesh matrices. NanoES exhibited robust electronic properties and have been used alone or combined with other biomaterials as biocompatible extracellular scaffolds for 3D culture of neurons, cardiomyocytes and smooth muscle cells. Furthermore, we show the integrated sensory capability of the nanoES by real-time monitoring of the local electrical activity within 3D nanoES/cardiomyocyte constructs, the response of 3D-nanoES-based neural and cardiac tissue models to drugs, and distinct pH changes inside and outside tubular vascular smooth muscle constructs.

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Figure 1: Integrating nanoelectronics with cells and tissue.
Figure 2: Macroporous and flexible nanowire nanoES.
Figure 3: Geometry control by design in nanoES.
Figure 4: Hybrid macroporous nanoelectronic scaffolds.
Figure 5: 3D cell culture and electrical sensing in nanoES.
Figure 6: Synthetic vascular construct enabled for sensing.


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We thank F. Kosar for help on μCT imaging of synthetic tissue samples and J. L. Huang for assistance with culture chamber preparation. C.M.L. acknowledges support from a NIH Director’s Pioneer Award and a McKnight Foundation Technological Innovations in Neurosciences Award. D.S.K. acknowledges a Biotechnology Research Endowment from the Department of Anesthesiology at Children’s Hospital Boston and NIH grant GM073626. R.S.L. acknowledges NIH grants DE013023 and DE016516.

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B.T., J.L., T.D., D.S.K. and C.M.L. designed the experiments. B.T. and J.L. performed experiments. T.D., J.T. and Q.Q. assisted in the initial stage of the project. L.J. and Z.S. performed calculations and simulations. B.T., J.L., D.S.K. and C.M.L. wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Daniel S. Kohane or Charles M. Lieber.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Tian, B., Liu, J., Dvir, T. et al. Macroporous nanowire nanoelectronic scaffolds for synthetic tissues. Nature Mater 11, 986–994 (2012).

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