Single-layer graphene modulates neuronal communication and augments membrane ion currents
The multipurpose material graphene — a one-atom-thick layer of carbon — has sparked brain cells into action.
Graphene is a highly conductive, flexible and transparent 2D material with myriad uses in technology, but how it interacts with biological systems is unclear.
Now, a team that included researchers from the Technological University of Munich has grown rat brain cells on a single graphene sheet and observed a strengthening of signals between the cells.
The graphene seemed to act like a magnet, attracting and trapping ions from the adjacent cell’s membrane, which changed the membrane’s composition and hence its behaviour. This is the first time the long theorized phenomenon of ion trapping has been witnessed.
Graphene electrodes could one day be used to stimulate and control brain activity in patients with neurological disorders.
- Nature Nanotechnology 13, 755–764 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41565-018-0163-6