Wearable and Implantable Soft Bioelectronics Using Two-Dimensional Materials.Acc Chem Res 2019; 52(1):73-81AC
Soft bioelectronics intended for application to wearable and implantable biomedical devices have attracted great attention from material scientists, device engineers, and clinicians because of their extremely soft mechanical properties that match with a variety of human organs and tissues, including the brain, heart, skin, eye, muscles, and neurons, as well as their wide diversity in device designs and biomedical functions that can be finely tuned for each specific case of applications. These unique features of the soft bioelectronics have allowed minimal mechanical and biological damage to organs and tissues integrated with bioelectronic devices and reduced side effects including inflammation, skin irritation, and immune responses even after long-term biointegration. These favorable properties for biointegration have enabled long-term monitoring of key biomedical indicators with high signal-to-noise ratio, reliable diagnosis of the patient's health status, and in situ feedback therapy with high treatment efficacy optimized for the requirements of each specific disease model. These advantageous device functions and performances could be maximized by adopting novel high-quality soft nanomaterials, particularly ultrathin two-dimensional (2D) materials, for soft bioelectronics. Two-dimensional materials are emerging material candidates for the channels and electrodes in electronic devices (semiconductors and conductors, respectively). They can also be applied to various biosensors and therapeutic actuators in soft bioelectronics. The ultrathin vertically layered nanostructure, whose layer number can be controlled in the synthesis step, and the horizontally continuous planar molecular structure, which can be found over a large area, have conferred unique mechanical, electrical, and optical properties upon the 2D materials. The atomically thin nanostructure allows mechanical softness and flexibility and high optical transparency of the device, while the large-area continuous thin film structure allows efficient carrier transport within the 2D plane. In addition, the quantum confinement effect in the atomically thin 2D layers introduces interesting optoelectronic properties and superb photodetecting capabilities. When fabricated as soft bioelectronic devices, these interesting and useful material features of the 2D materials enable unconventional device functions in biological and optical sensing, as well as superb performance in electrical and biochemical therapeutic actuations. In this Account, we first summarize the distinctive characteristics of the 2D materials in terms of the mechanical, optical, chemical, electrical, and biomedical aspects and then present application examples of the 2D materials to soft bioelectronic devices based on each aforementioned unique material properties. Among various kinds of 2D materials, we particularly focus on graphene and MoS2. The advantageous material features of graphene and MoS2 include ultrathin thickness, facile functionalization, large surface-to-volume ratio, biocompatibility, superior photoabsorption, and high transparency, which allow the development of high-performance multifunctional soft bioelectronics, such as a wearable glucose patch, a highly sensitive humidity sensor, an ultrathin tactile sensor, a soft neural probe, a soft retinal prosthesis, a smart endoscope, and a cell culture platform. A brief comparison of their characteristics and performances is also provided. Finally, this Account concludes with a future outlook on next-generation soft bioelectronics based on 2D materials.