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Abstract

Seamless and minimally invasive three-dimensional interpenetration of electronics within artificial or natural structures could allow for continuous monitoring and manipulation of their properties. Flexible electronics provide a means for conforming electronics to non-planar surfaces, yet targeted delivery of flexible electronics to internal regions remains difficult. Here, we overcome this challenge by demonstrating the syringe injection (and subsequent unfolding) of sub-micrometre-thick, centimetre-scale macroporous mesh electronics through needles with a diameter as small as 100 μm. Our results show that electronic components can be injected into man-made and biological cavities, as well as dense gels and tissue, with >90% device yield. We demonstrate several applications of syringe-injectable electronics as a general approach for interpenetrating flexible electronics with three-dimensional structures, including (1) monitoring internal mechanical strains in polymer cavities, (2) tight integration and low chronic immunoreactivity with several distinct regions of the brain, and (3) in vivo multiplexed neural recording. Moreover, syringe injection enables the delivery of flexible electronics through a rigid shell, the delivery of large-volume flexible electronics that can fill internal cavities, and co-injection of electronics with other materials into host structures, opening up unique applications for flexible electronics.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank J.L. Huang for in vivo scaffold fabrication. C.M.L. acknowledges support from a National Institutes of Health Director's Pioneer Award, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Star Family Fund.

Author information

Author notes

    • Jia Liu
    • , Tian-Ming Fu
    •  & Zengguang Cheng

    These authors contributed equally to this work

Affiliations

  1. Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • Jia Liu
    • , Tian-Ming Fu
    • , Zengguang Cheng
    • , Guosong Hong
    • , Tao Zhou
    • , Madhavi Duvvuri
    • , Zhe Jiang
    • , Peter Kruskal
    • , Chong Xie
    •  & Charles M. Lieber
  2. National Center for Nanoscience and Technology, 11 Beiyitiao Street, Zhongguancun, Beijing 100190, China

    • Zengguang Cheng
    •  & Ying Fang
  3. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • Lihua Jin
    • , Zhigang Suo
    •  & Charles M. Lieber

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Contributions

J.L., T.F., Z.C. and C.M.L. designed the experiments. J.L., T.F., Z.C., G.H., T.Z., M.D. and Z.J. performed the experiments. L.J. and Z.S. performed FEM analysis. J.L., T.F., Z.C. and C.M.L. analysed the data and wrote the manuscript. J.L., T.F., Z.C., G.H., T.Z., L.J., M.D., Z.J., P.K., C.X., Z.S., Y.F. and C.M.L. discussed manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Ying Fang or Charles M. Lieber.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2015.115