Research led by Denmark’s Aarhus University has led to a microscopic organic PV technology its developers claim could be used to create light-controlled, neural stimulating scaffolds in the body.
The technology consists of water-based nanofibers coated with a biological photovoltaic substance which can be easily injected into the body, according to the researchers. Despite not being in direct contact with light, the organic photovoltaic nanomaterial semiconductors embedded in the nanofibers can receive the small amount of light able to penetrate tissue.
“We want to develop a wireless, non-invasive, safe and very accurate therapeutic treatment method that can regenerate heart and brain cells by means of an external light source,” said the creators of the technology.
The idea is that excitable cells in the heart and brain could be regenerated by electrical stimulation.
“Research has already demonstrated that electric stimulation can get neurons to regenerate,” stated the research team. Menglin Chen, one of the authors of a paper explaining the results, added: “If we’re successful, this will have a major impact on implementing new treatment methods for various brain and heart conditions in the future.”
The research project, funded by the Danish government with DKK4.2 million ($627,000), is described in the study Visible-Light Neural Stimulation on Graphitic-Carbon Nitride/Graphene Photocatalytic Fibers, published in Applied Material & Interfaces.
Separate research from the United States published last year demonstrated how PV technology could be used to kill cancer cells. That innovation involved light-activated fluorescent dyes based on PV technology which could be used for disease diagnosis, image-guided surgery and site-specific personalized therapy.