Enzyme-assisted in vivo polymerisation of conjugated oligomer based conductors†
Conjugated polymers conduct both electronic and ionic carriers and thus can stimulate and translate biological signals when used as active materials in bioelectronic devices. Self- and on-demand organization of the active material directly in the in vivo environment can result in the seamless integration of the bioelectronic interface. Along that line, we recently demonstrated spontaneous in vivo polymerization of the conjugated oligomer ETE-S in the vascular tissue of plants and the formation of conducting wires. In this work, we elucidate the mechanism of the in vivo polymerization of the ETE-S trimer and demonstrate that ETE-S polymerizes due to an enzymatic reaction where the enzyme peroxidase is the catalyst and hydrogen peroxide is the oxidant. ETE-S, therefore, represents the first example of a conducting polymer that is enzymatically polymerized in vivo. By reproducing the reaction in vitro, we gain further insight on the polymerization mechanism and show that hydrogen peroxide is the limiting factor. In plants the ETE-S triggers the catalytic cycle responsible for the lignification process, hacks this biochemical pathway and integrates within the plant cell wall, forming conductors along the plant structure.