Suspended Silicon Microphotodiodes for Electrochemical and Biological Applications

Small. 2017 Nov;13(41). doi: 10.1002/smll.201701920. Epub 2017 Sep 25.


Local electric stimulation of tissues and cells has gained importance as therapeutic alternative in the treatment of many diseases. These alternatives aim to deliver a less invasively stimuli in liquid media, making imperative the development of versatile micro- and nanoscale solutions for wireless actuation. Here, a simple microfabrication process to produce suspended silicon microphotodiodes that can be activated by visible light to generate local photocurrents in their surrounding medium is presented. Electrical characterization using electrical probes confirms their diode behavior. To demonstrate their electrochemical performance, an indirect test is implemented in solution through photoelectrochemical reactions controlled by a white-LED lamp. Furthermore, their effects on biological systems are observed in vitro using mouse primary neurons in which the suspended microphotodiodes are activated periodically with white-LED lamp, bringing out observable morphological changes in neuronal processes. The results demonstrate a simplified and cost-effective wireless tool for photovoltaic current generation in liquid media at the microscale.

Keywords: cell stimulation; intracellular chips; neurons; photovoltaic cells; suspended microparticles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Electricity
  • Electrochemistry / methods*
  • Electronics*
  • Light
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microtechnology / methods*
  • Silicon / chemistry*


  • Silicon