CE19 - Technologies pour la santé

Hydrogel-based stretchable device with tissue electrical sensing or stimulation ability – STRETCH

Submission summary

Novel applications in the biomedical field could come from exploiting the electroactive properties of conducting polymers and the biocompatibility and biodegradability of natural polysaccharides towards the development of flexible, stretchable and bioresorbable electronic biointerfaces. Such devices are promising for electrical stimulation and recording in vivo, because of their mechanically permissive structures that conform to curvilinear structures found in native tissue. Moreover, their transient character enables opportunities to develop advanced biomedical devices such as monitoring systems that eliminate risks associated with surgical explantation, stimulators to accelerate tissue repair and temporary drug delivery systems. The main goal of the STRETCH project is to design and study new electrode materials, of which originality lies in the combination of two crosslinked polysaccharide networks incorporating a conducting polymer. These all-polymeric materials will be integrated in an implantable electrode array dedicated to neurophysiological monitoring. The focus on such an application will allow close collaboration with clinicians, guaranteeing consideration of the physico-chemical and biological requirements early in the design stage of the materials. For this specific application, the new device is expected to i) optimize tissue integration mainly due to its ability to mechanically match its biological environment; ii) operate over a short period of time (about 3 weeks) and dissolve afterwards to generate biologically safe products. The strategy for material selection focuses on designing water-borne dispersions based on poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), a biocompatible and electrically conductive polymer, and photocrosslinkable sulfated polysaccharides (sulfated dextran (DexS) and sulfated hyaluronic acid (HAS)) to obtain processable polymer formulations ("inks") combining conductivity, printability, controllable biological and degradation properties. Besides acting as dopant and dispersing agent of PEDOT in water (instead of commonly used poly(styrene sulfonate)), these functional polysaccharides will allow i) the design of conductive tracks showing self-healability, ii) the fabrication of soft conducting hydrogels with properties beneficial for interacting with living systems, and iii) the processing and integration of these active components into a bioresorbable electrode array. Here, crosslinked chitosan (CHI) thin films will be used as the insulating material taking advantage of the low conductivity, biocompatibility, biodegradability, adhesive and film-forming properties of CHI.
The proposed method to engineer the STRETCH electrode array involves the chemical modification of dextran, HA and CHI, the development of new photocrosslinkable PEDOT/DexS and PEDOT/HAS inks and their localized deposition on soft CHI substrates, and the device integration combining microtechnology and photolithography techniques. Fundamental studies will be performed to fully characterize the different materials in terms of mechanical properties, electrical conductivity at rest and under stretching, bioresorption in physiological media and stability to sterilization conditions. The biocompatibility and behavior (adhesion, proliferation, spreading) of cells cultured on these hybrid materials will also be investigated in vitro and the best candidates will be selected to assess their performance in vivo in a cortical rodent model.

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LETI Laboratoire d'Electronique et de Technologie de l'Information

Help of the ANR 416,737 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 42 Months

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