Single-layer graphene modulates neuronal communication and augments membrane ion currents

Journal: Nature Nanotechnology

Published: 2018-06-11

DOI: 10.1038/s41565-018-0163-6

Affiliations: 14

Authors: 9

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Research Highlight

Neurons get excited by graphene

© 4X-image/Getty

© 4X-image/Getty

The multipurpose material graphene — a one-atom-thick layer of carbon — has sparked brain cells into action.

Graphene is a highly conductive, flexible and transparent 2D material with myriad uses in technology, but how it interacts with biological systems is unclear. 

Now, a team that included researchers from the Technological University of Munich has grown rat brain cells on a single graphene sheet and observed a strengthening of signals between the cells.

The graphene seemed to act like a magnet, attracting and trapping ions from the adjacent cell’s membrane, which changed the membrane’s composition and hence its behaviour. This is the first time the long theorized phenomenon of ion trapping has been witnessed.

Graphene electrodes could one day be used to stimulate and control brain activity in patients with neurological disorders.

Supported content

  1. Nature Nanotechnology 13, 755–764 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41565-018-0163-6
Institutions Share
Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA), Italy 0.28
Elettra - Sincrotrone Trieste S.C.p.A., Italy 0.17
Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany 0.11
Institute of Materials (IOM), CNR, Italy 0.06
University of Trieste (UNITS), Italy 0.06
Centre for Cooperative Research in Biomaterials (CIC biomaGUNE), Spain 0.06
Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2), BIST, Spain 0.06
Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), Spain 0.06
Central European Research Infrastructure Consortium (CERIC-ERIC), Italy 0.06
University of Antwerp (UA), Belgium 0.04
The University of Sheffield, United Kingdom (UK) 0.04
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland 0.04
Ikerbasque - Basque Foundation for Science, Spain 0