Flexible biodegradable citrate-based polymeric step-index optical fiber

Dingying Shan, Chenji Zhang, Surge Kalaba, Nikhil Mehta, Gloria B. Kim, Zhiwen Liu, Jian Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Implanting fiber optical waveguides into tissue or organs for light delivery and collection is among the most effective ways to overcome the issue of tissue turbidity, a long-standing obstacle for biomedical optical technologies. Here, we report a citrate-based material platform with engineerable opto-mechano-biological properties and demonstrate a new type of biodegradable, biocompatible, and low-loss step-index optical fiber for organ-scale light delivery and collection. By leveraging the rich designability and processibility of citrate-based biodegradable polymers, two exemplary biodegradable elastomers with a fine refractive index difference and yet matched mechanical properties and biodegradation profiles were developed. Furthermore, we developed a two-step fabrication method to fabricate flexible and low-loss (0.4 db/cm) optical fibers, and performed systematic characterizations to study optical, spectroscopic, mechanical, and biodegradable properties. In addition, we demonstrated the proof of concept of image transmission through the citrate-based polymeric optical fibers and conducted in vivo deep tissue light delivery and fluorescence sensing in a Sprague-Dawley (SD) rat, laying the groundwork for realizing future implantable devices for long-term implantation where deep-tissue light delivery, sensing and imaging are desired, such as cell, tissue, and scaffold imaging in regenerative medicine and in vivo optogenetic stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-148
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Oct 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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