Measuring vital physiological pressures is important for monitoring health status, preventing the buildup of dangerous internal forces in impaired organs, and enabling novel approaches of using mechanical stimulation for tissue regeneration. Pressure sensors are often required to be implanted and directly integrated with native soft biological systems. Therefore, the devices should be flexible and at the same time biodegradable to avoid invasive removal surgery that can damage directly interfaced tissues. Despite recent achievements in degradable electronic devices, there is still a tremendous need to develop a force sensor which only relies on safe medical materials and requires no complex fabrication process to provide accurate information on important biophysiological forces. Here, we present a strategy for material processing, electromechanical analysis, device fabrication, and assessment of a piezoelectric Poly-l-lactide (PLLA) polymer to create a biodegradable, biocompatible piezoelectric force sensor, which only employs medical materials used commonly in Food and Drug Administration-approved implants, for the monitoring of biological forces. We show the sensor can precisely measure pressures in a wide range of 0-18 kPa and sustain a reliable performance for a period of 4 d in an aqueous environment. We also demonstrate this PLLA piezoelectric sensor can be implanted inside the abdominal cavity of a mouse to monitor the pressure of diaphragmatic contraction. This piezoelectric sensor offers an appealing alternative to present biodegradable electronic devices for the monitoring of intraorgan pressures. The sensor can be integrated with tissues and organs, forming self-sensing bionic systems to enable many exciting applications in regenerative medicine, drug delivery, and medical devices.
Keywords: PLLA; biodegradable; piezoelectric; pressure; sensor.