Optical waveguides allow propagating light through biological tissue in optogenetics and photomedicine applications. However, achieving efficient light delivery to deep tissues for long-term implantation has been limited with solid-state optical fibers. Here, a method is created to rapidly fabricate flexible, functionalized soft polymer optical fibers (SPOFs) coupled with silica fibers. A step-index core/cladded poly(acrylamide-co-poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate)/Ca alginate SPOF is fabricated through free-radical polymerization in a mold. The SPOF is integrated with a solid-state silica fiber coupler for efficient light delivery. The cladded SPOF shows ≈1.5-fold increase in light propagation compared to the noncladded fiber. The optical loss of the SPOF is measured as 0.6 dB cm-1 at the bending angle of 70° and 0.28 dB cm-1 through a phantom tissue. The SPOF (inner Ø = 200 μm) integrated with a 21 gauge needle (inner Ø = 514 μm) is inserted within a porcine tissue. The intensity of light decreases ≈60%, as the SPOF is implanted as deep as 2 cm. Doped with fluorescent dye and gold nanoparticles, the SPOF fiber exhibits yellow-red and red illumination. Living cells can also be incorporated within the SPOF with viability. The flexible SPOFs may have applications in photodynamic light therapy, optical biosensors, and photomedicine.
- Optical fibers
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics