14 December 2023

The magazine Physics World has named LiU research one of the year’s major breakthroughs in physics globally. In their study, carried out at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics, the researchers showed that soft electrodes can be grown in living tissue.

Four persons walking next to each other.
Some of the researchers behind the study. From the left Xenofon Strakosas, Magnus Berggren, Daniel Simon and Hanne Biesmans. Thor Balkhed

“We’re very proud that these results are now recognised by Physics World as one of the biggest breakthroughs of the year,” says Magnus Berggren, professor of organic electronics.

The researchers succeeded in growing electrodes in living tissue with the body’s own molecules as triggers. The long-term goal is the manufacture of fully integrated electronic circuits in living organisms. Their results were published earlier this year in the journal Science.

Connecting electronics to biological tissue is important for understanding complex biological functions, combating brain diseases and developing future interfaces between man and machine.

“It introduces a new way of thinking about bioelectronics that opens a lot of possibilities for the future. It will make some amazing therapies and applications that already exist a lot safer and more accessible, so more people can benefit from it,” says Hanne Biesmans, PhD student at LOE.

Interdisciplinary research

By injecting a gelatine-like gel with enzymes as “assembly molecules”, the researchers managed to grow electrodes in the tissue of zebrafish and leeches. All that is needed to activate the formation of electrodes is the body's own molecules. There is no need for genetic modification or external signals, such as light or electrical energy, which has been necessary in previous experiments. This is precisely what the Swedish researchers are the first in the world to succeed with.

“These research results are the result of a close collaboration between researchers at Lund University and Linköping University. It wouldn’t have been possible to identify the problem of polymerisation in the nervous system, formulate the methods and make the discovery without an interdisciplinary approach,” says Magnus Berggren.

Physics World is a monthly magazine published by the British Institute of Physics, one of the world’s largest associations of physicists with over 20,000 members. Each year, they name the ten largest breakthroughs in physics in the world. Read more about the list at physicsworld.com

Article: Metabolite-induced in vivo fabrication of substrate-free organic bioelectronics; Xenofon Strakosas, Hanne Biesmans, Tobias Abrahamsson, Karin Hellman, Malin Silverå Ejneby, Mary J. Donahue, Peter Ekström, Fredrik Ek, Marios Savvakis, Martin Hjort, David Bliman, Mathieu Linares, Caroline Lindholm, Eleni Stavrinidou, Jennifer Y. Gerasimov, Daniel T. Simon, Roger Olsson, Magnus Berggren. Science 2023. Published online 23 February 2023 DOI: 10.1126/science.adc9998

Explaining the research

Electrodes grown in living tissue

 Hanne Biesmans, PhD student at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics, explains how they managed to grow soft electrodes in living tissue.

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