Illustration: Nanotools Bioscience

Topics: Biology, Cancer, Graphene, Nanotechnology, Research

See: "Annus mirabilis" at Wikipedia for the cultural reference.

Shine light on human heart cells cultured on graphene and they beat faster. Shine light on zebrafish embryos with graphene flakes injected in their hearts, and the contraction of that organ speeds up.

That’s what scientists at the University of California San Diego reported today in the journal Science Advances, in a discovery they say has implications for everything from drug testing to pacemakers.

Sometimes discoveries happen due to serendipity,” says Alex Savchenko, a biophysics researcher at the university, who led the discovery with Elena Molokanova at the San Diego-based startup Nanotools Bioscience. “In this case we were controlling what we wanted to achieve all the way through the experiment.”

Graphene, the wonder material composed of single atom-thick sheets of carbon, has been a focus of excitement and feverish development ever since some of its properties were first demonstrated, in 2004, by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, both now at the University of Manchester.

One of graphene’s many talents is that it can convert light into electricity. Savchenko and his colleagues hypothesized that the electricity generated by graphene could also stimulate human cells.

After honing the graphene formulation and trying out different types of light, Savchenko’s team managed to do what they set out to do: They built a gentle remote control for cell growth. Call it an opto-graphene stimulator.

Gif: Nanotools Bioscience This video shows heart cells being manipulated by an optical graphene stimulator.

Graphene Stimulator Paves Way for Optical Pacemakers, Smart Opioids, and Electronic Cancer Killers

Emily Waltz, Spectrum IEEE

Views: 55

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