BX-135 Ulfendahl - Haviland Nanostructured bioelectronic interfaces
Project Summary: Objectives, expected results, summary of the Project plan
The objective of the proposed research is to develop new bioelectronic interfaces by creating nanometer scale patterns of molecules that control neuronal attachment on electrode surfaces. Such interfaces would improve the function of devices ranging from cochlear implants to pace makers, and enable entirely new capabilities in the area of bioelectronics. Our approach to this problem will be to first develop high resolution protein patterning approaches based on electron beam lithography technology. These methods are based on modifying gold surfaces with polyethylene glycol (PEG) and subsequent removal of the PEG using an electron beam. The patterned surface is then filled with a protein to create a protein pattern with features down to 20 nanometers. We will use this capability to study how neuronal cells, initially models cells and eventually primary isolates of spiral ganglia, interact with various patterns. The working hypothesis for this project is that cells are sensitive to how proteins are organized on a nanometer length scale, and that controlling the protein pattern will allow us to eventually control cell behaviour. In particular controlling protein patterns will allow us to improve neuronal contacts with electrodes in cochlear implants. Hence we will design patterns of proteins in a way to learn how cells interpret and respond to information in the pattern. For example, we will produce one pattern of 100 nm spots of fibronectin in a hexagonal array and compare this with 100 nm spots at the same density but without order. We will then measure the propensity of cells to interact with one pattern versus the other; by varying patterns and measuring cell responses will gain important fundamental insights that will result in improved bioelectronic devices and make possible new classes of devices that will enhance the quality of life for people with a wide range of disease or disability.
Keywords for the project (to be found in international databases)
Bioelectronic, cochlear implants, nanopatterning, electron beam lithography, neuronal guidance, cell adhesion