Bioelectronic interfacing with the human body including electrical stimulation and recording of neural activities is the basis of the rapidly growing field of neural science and engineering, diagnostics, therapy, and wearable and implantable devices. Owing to intrinsic dissimilarities between soft, wet, and living biological tissues and rigid, dry, and synthetic electronic systems, the development of more compatible, effective, and stable interfaces between these two different realms has been one of the most daunting challenges in science and technology. Recently, hydrogels have emerged as a promising material candidate for the next-generation bioelectronic interfaces, due to their similarities to biological tissues and versatility in electrical, mechanical, and biofunctional engineering. In this review, we discuss (i) the fundamental mechanisms of tissue–electrode interactions, (ii) hydrogels’ unique advantages in bioelectrical interfacing with the human body, (iii) the recent progress in hydrogel developments for bioelectronics, and (iv) rational guidelines for the design of future hydrogel bioelectronics. Advances in hydrogel bioelectronics will usher unprecedented opportunities toward ever-close integration of biology and electronics, potentially blurring the boundary between humans and machines.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Materials chemistry in flexible electronics