Stretchable, dynamic covalent polymers for soft, long-lived bioresorbable electronic stimulators designed to facilitate neuromuscular regeneration

Yeon Sik Choi, Yuan Yu Hsueh, Jahyun Koo, Quansan Yang, Raudel Avila, Buwei Hu, Zhaoqian Xie, Geumbee Lee, Zheng Ning, Claire Liu, Yameng Xu, Young Joong Lee, Weikang Zhao, Jun Fang, Yujun Deng, Seung Min Lee, Abraham Vázquez-Guardado, Iwona Stepien, Ying Yan, Joseph W. SongChad Haney, Yong Suk Oh, Wentai Liu, Hong Joon Yun, Anthony Banks, Matthew R. MacEwan, Guillermo A. Ameer, Wilson Z. Ray, Yonggang Huang, Tao Xie, Colin K. Franz, Song Li, John A. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


Bioresorbable electronic stimulators are of rapidly growing interest as unusual therapeutic platforms, i.e., bioelectronic medicines, for treating disease states, accelerating wound healing processes and eliminating infections. Here, we present advanced materials that support operation in these systems over clinically relevant timeframes, ultimately bioresorbing harmlessly to benign products without residues, to eliminate the need for surgical extraction. Our findings overcome key challenges of bioresorbable electronic devices by realizing lifetimes that match clinical needs. The devices exploit a bioresorbable dynamic covalent polymer that facilitates tight bonding to itself and other surfaces, as a soft, elastic substrate and encapsulation coating for wireless electronic components. We describe the underlying features and chemical design considerations for this polymer, and the biocompatibility of its constituent materials. In devices with optimized, wireless designs, these polymers enable stable, long-lived operation as distal stimulators in a rat model of peripheral nerve injuries, thereby demonstrating the potential of programmable long-term electrical stimulation for maintaining muscle receptivity and enhancing functional recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5990
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work made use of the NUFAB facility of Northwestern University’s NUANCE Center, which has received support from the Soft and Hybrid Nanotechnology Experimental (SHyNE) Resource (NSF ECCS-1542205); the MRSEC program (NSF DMR-1720139) at the Materials Research Center; the International Institute for Nanotechnology (IIN); the Keck Foundation; and the State of Illinois, through the IIN. J.K. acknowledges the support from National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2020R1F1A1068083). Z.X. acknowledges the support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 12072057) and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant No. DUT20RC(3)032). Y.H. acknowledges support from NSF (Grant No. CMMI1635443). R.A. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF grant number 1842165) and Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship. W.L. acknowledges support from Higher Education Sprout Project, Ministry of Education to the Headquarters of University Advancement at National Cheng Kung University(NCKU). The work at UCLA was supported by a grant from NIH (HL121450) and Chancellor Professorship. Y.-Y.H. acknowledges support from the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan (MOST 106-2918-I-006 −006 and 108-2628-B-006 −017).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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