Modular Integration of Hydrogel Neural Interfaces

Anthony Tabet, Marc Joseph Antonini, Atharva Sahasrabudhe, Jimin Park, Dekel Rosenfeld, Florian Koehler, Hyunwoo Yuk, Samuel Hanson, Jordan Stinson, Melissa Stok, Xuanhe Zhao, Chun Wang, Polina Anikeeva*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Thermal drawing has been recently leveraged to yield multifunctional, fiber-based neural probes at near kilometer length scales. Despite its promise, the widespread adoption of this approach has been impeded by (1) material compatibility requirements and (2) labor-intensive interfacing of functional features to external hardware. Furthermore, in multifunctional fibers, significant volume is occupied by passive polymer cladding that so far has only served structural or electrical insulation purposes. In this article, we report a rapid, robust, and modular approach to creating multifunctional fiber-based neural interfaces using a solvent evaporation or entrapment-driven (SEED) integration process. This process brings together electrical, optical, and microfluidic modalities all encased within a copolymer comprised of water-soluble poly(ethylene glycol) tethered to water-insoluble poly(urethane) (PU-PEG). We employ these devices for simultaneous optogenetics and electrophysiology and demonstrate that multifunctional neural probes can be used to deliver cellular cargo with high viability. Upon exposure to water, PU-PEG cladding spontaneously forms a hydrogel, which in addition to enabling integration of modalities, can harbor small molecules and nanomaterials that can be released into local tissue following implantation. We also synthesized a custom nanodroplet forming block polymer and demonstrated that embedding such materials within the hydrogel cladding of our probes enables delivery of hydrophobic small molecules in vitro and in vivo. Our approach widens the chemical toolbox and expands the capabilities of multifunctional neural interfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1516-1523
Number of pages8
JournalACS Central Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - 22 Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Center for Materials Science and EngineeringDMR-1419807
McGovern Institute for Brain Research
NSF Center for NeurotechnologyEEC-1028725
National Science Foundation
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeR01-NS115025-01A1
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


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