Research at the interface between nanoscience and biology has the potential to produce breakthroughs in fundamental science and lead to revolutionary technologies for biology, medicine and healthcare, especially developing new tools that push the limits of spatial and temporal resolution while reducing invasiveness to electrogenic cells, which could open up new research directions and provide a deeper understanding of cell network/tissue functional connectivity, and signal processing between non-living materials and living systems. 1-3

To achieve this goal, we have rationally designed and developed a series of functional bioelectronics, sensors and electronic tissue scaffolds for physiological interrogation and healthcare. Specifically, we developed scalable ultrasmall nanowire 3D transistor probes for intracellular neural and cardiac recording and enabled investigations of intracellular electrophysiology of electrogenic cells and study of the connections from the subcellular to the network level, which was recognised as a leap forward for high-resolution human-machine interfaces.4-6 We designed and optimised bio-inspired injectable neuron-like mesh electronics: It is a conceptual and experimental breakthrough that, for the first time, literally blurs the ever-present and clear dissimilarities in critical structural and mechanical properties between man-made and living systems.7 Our team designed a multifunctional ultrathin transistors-based flexible mesh sensor system, which could be used as a non-invasive way to monitor diversified signals from the eyes, including diabetes, temperature, etc., providing personalised and accurate medical analysis for users.8 Inspired by the extracellular matrix, more recently, our team also designed and fabricated functional and mechanically stable bioelectronic scaffolds that can seamlessly integrate into a customised on–stage incubator chamber, combined with a fluorescence microscope, and electrical stimulation/recording system to allow for continuous and long–term monitoring and manipulation of cell behaviour, in turn, regulating tissue formation.9,10 

  1. Elnathan*, M. Barbato, X. Guo, A. Mariano, Z. Wang, F. Santoro, P. Shi*, Y. Zhao*, etc., "Biointerface design for vertical nanoprobes" Nature Reviews Materials7, (2022), 7, 953.
  2. Wen, G. Li, T. Huang, W. Geng, H. Pei, J. Yang, M. Zhu, Y. Zhao*, N. Jiang*, C. Tian*, Z. Chen*, et al. "Single-cell technologies: From research to application." The Innovation (2022): 100342.
  3. Zhang, Y. Zhao, S. S. You, C. M. Lieber*, Nanowire probes drive high-resolution brain-machine interfaces. Nano Today 31 (2020), 100821.
  4. Y. Zhao, S.S. You, A. Zhang, J. Lee, C. M. Lieber*, Scalable ultrasmall three-dimensional nanowire transistor probes for intracellular recording. Nature Nanotechnology 14 (2019), 783-790.
  5. Y. Zhao, J. Yao, L. Xu, M.N. Mankin, Y. Zhu, H. Wu, L. Mai, C. M. Lieber*, Shape-controlled deterministic assembly of nanowires, Nano Letters 16,4 (2016), 2644.
  6. H. Han, C. Qin, D. Xu, S. Kar, F.A. Castro, Z. Wang, J. Fang, Y. Zhao*, and N. Hu*, Elevating intracellular action potential recording in cardiomyocytes: A precision-enhanced and biosafe single-pulse electroporation system. Biosensors and Bioelectronics246, (2024), p.115860.
  7. Yang, T. Zhou, G. Hong, Y. Zhao, R.D. Viveros, T. Fu, T. Gao, C. M. Lieber*, Bioinspired neuron-like electronics. Nature Materials 18, (2019): 510–517.
  8. Guo, K. Wu, C. Li, S. Zhang, M. E. Zaghloul, C. Wang, F. A. Castro, D Yang*, Y. Zhao*, Integrated contact lens sensor system based on multifunctional ultrathin MoS2 transistors. Matter 4.3 (2021): 969-985.
  9. Cox-Pridmore, F. A. Castro, P. Camelliti, Y. Zhao*, Emerging bioelectronic strategies for cardiovascular tissue engineering and implantation. Small, (2022): 202105281.
  10. D. Cox-Pridmore, B. Officer, I. Francescon, G. Thompson, R. Sharma, S. Sun, M. Xu, Y. Gong, S. R. P. Silva, F. A. Castro*, P. Camelliti*, Y. Zhao*, Submitted