Overcoming transport limitations in miniaturized electrophoretic delivery devices
Organic electronic ion pumps (OEIPs) have been used for delivery of biological signaling compounds, at high spatiotemporal resolution, to a variety of biological targets. The miniaturization of this technology provides several advantages, ranging from better spatiotemporal control of delivery to reduced invasiveness for implanted OEIPs. One route to miniaturization is to develop OEIPs based on glass capillary fibers that are filled with a polyelectrolyte (cation exchange membrane, CEM). These devices can be easily inserted and brought into close proximity to targeted cells and tissues and could be considered as a starting point for other fiber-based OEIP and “iontronic” technologies enabling favorable implantable device geometries. While characterizing capillary OEIPs we observed deviations from the typical linear current–voltage behavior. Here we report a systematic investigation of these irregularities by performing experimental characterizations in combination with computational modelling. The cause of the observed irregularities is due to concentration polarization established at the OEIP inlet, which in turn causes electric field-enhanced water dissociation at the inlet. Water dissociation generates protons and is typically problematic for many applications. By adding an ion-selective cap that separates the inlet from the source reservoir this effect is then, to a large extent, suppressed. By increasing the surface area of the inlet with the addition of the cap, the concentration polarization is reduced which thereby allows for significantly higher delivery rates. These results demonstrate a useful approach to optimize transport and delivery of therapeutic substances at low concentrations via miniaturized electrophoretic delivery devices, thus considerably broadening the opportunities for implantable OEIP applications.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Recent Open Access Articles