The ability to modulate cellular electrophysiology is fundamental to the investigation of development, function, and disease. Currently, there is a need for remote, nongenetic, light-induced control of cellular activity in two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) platforms. Here, we report a breakthrough hybrid nanomaterial for remote, nongenetic, photothermal stimulation of 2D and 3D neural cellular systems. We combine one-dimensional (1D) nanowires (NWs) and 2D graphene flakes grown out-of-plane for highly controlled photothermal stimulation at subcellular precision without the need for genetic modification, with laser energies lower than a hundred nanojoules, one to two orders of magnitude lower than Au-, C-, and Si-based nanomaterials. Photothermal stimulation using NW-templated 3D fuzzy graphene (NT-3DFG) is flexible due to its broadband absorption and does not generate cellular stress. Therefore, it serves as a powerful toolset for studies of cell signaling within and between tissues and can enable therapeutic interventions.
Keywords: dorsal root ganglia neurons; graphene; nanowire; optical modulation; spheroids.
Copyright © 2020 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.