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Label-free optical detection of bioelectric potentials using electrochromic thin films

By Felix S. Alfonso, Yuecheng Zhou, Erica Liu, Allister F. McGuire, Yang Yang, Husniye Kantarci, Dong Li, Eric Copenhaver, J. Bradley Zuchero, Holger Müller, Bianxiao Cui

Posted 17 May 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.05.16.099002 (published DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2002352117)

Understanding how a network of interconnected neurons receives, stores, and processes information in the human brain is one of the outstanding scientific challenges of our time. The ability to reliably detect neuroelectric activities is essential to addressing this challenge. Optical recording using voltage-sensitive fluorescent probes has provided unprecedented flexibility for choosing regions of interest in recording neuronal activities. However, when recording at a high frame rate such as 500-1000 Hz, fluorescence-based voltage sensors often suffer from photobleaching and phototoxicity, which limit the recording duration. Here, we report a new approach, Electro-Chromic Optical REcording (ECORE), that achieves label-free optical recording of spontaneous neuroelectrical activities. ECORE utilizes the electrochromism of PEDOT:PSS thin films, whose optical absorption can be modulated by an applied voltage. Being based on optical reflection instead of fluorescence, ECORE offers the flexibility of an optical probe without suffering from photobleaching or phototoxicity. Using ECORE, we optically recorded spontaneous action potentials in cardiomyocytes, cultured hippocampal and dorsal root ganglion neurons, and brain slices. With minimal perturbation to cells, ECORE allows long-term optical recording over multiple days. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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