Optogenetic modulation of cortical neurons using organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs)

Arati Sridharan, Ankur Shah, Swathy Sampath Kumar, James Kyeh, Joseph Smith, Jennifer Blain-Christen, Jit Muthuswamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: There is a need for low power, scalable photoelectronic devices and systems for emerging optogenetic needs in neuromodulation. Conventional light emitting diodes (LEDs) are constrained by power and lead-counts necessary for scalability. Organic LEDs (OLEDs) offer an exciting approach to decrease power and lead-counts while achieving high channel counts on thin, flexible substrates that conform to brain surfaces or peripheral neuronal fibers. In this study, we investigate the potential for using OLEDs to modulate neuronal networks cultured in vitro on a transparent microelectrode array (MEA) and subsequently validate neurostimulation in vivo in a transgenic mouse model. Approach: Cultured mouse cortical neurons were transfected with light-sensitive opsins such as blue-light sensitive channel-rhodopsin (ChR2) and green-light sensitive chimeric channel-rhodopsin (C1V1tt) and stimulated using blue and green OLEDs (with 455 and 520 nm peak emission spectra respectively) at a power of ∼1 mW mm-2 under pulsed conditions. Main results: We demonstrate neuromodulation and optostimulus-locked, single unit-neuronal activity in neurons expressing stimulating opsins (34 units on n = 4 MEAs, each with 16 recordable channels). We also validated the optostimulus-locked response in preliminary experiments in a channel-rhodopsin expressing transgenic mouse model, where at least three isolatable single neuronal cortical units respond to OLED stimulation. Significance: The above results indicate the feasibility of generating sufficient luminance from OLEDs to perform neuromodulation both in vitro and in vivo. This opens up the possibility of developing thin, flexible OLED films with multiple stimulation sites that can conform to the shape of the neuronal targets in the brain or the peripheral nervous system. However, stability of these OLEDs under chronic conditions still needs to be carefully assessed with appropriate packaging approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number025003
JournalBiomedical Physics and Engineering Express
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


  • flexible electronics
  • implants
  • neural interface
  • neuromodulation
  • optical stimulation
  • photonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


Dive into the research topics of 'Optogenetic modulation of cortical neurons using organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this