Graphene-based neuron encapsulation with controlled axonal outgrowth.


NTT Basic Research Laboratories, NTT Corporation, 3-1 Morinosato Wakamiya, Atsugi, Kanagawa 243-0198, Japan. [Email]


Neuronal constructs with tuneable 3D geometry can contribute greatly to the construction of brain-like functional tissues for transplantable grafts and robust experimental models. In this study, we propose a self-folding graphene/polymer bilayer film that forms a micro-roll for neuron encapsulation, and highlight the importance of employing pores on the micro-roll to allow neurons to interact with their surroundings. The micro-patterns and varied thicknesses of the bilayer provide control over the 3D geometries of the micro-roll. The pores facilitate the diffusion of reagents, resulting in the adequate loading of probes for imaging and the successful stimulation of the encapsulated neurons. Moreover, the encapsulated neurons inside the micro-roll are functionally integrated into surrounding neuronal networks by extending their axons through the pores. Thus, our method for encapsulating neurons with a porous graphene-laden film allows the construction of precisely shaped neuronal tissues that interact with their surroundings. We believe that the method will open a new avenue for the reconstruction of functional neuronal tissues and is potentially applicable to other self-folding bilayers.