Electrostatically gated nanofluidic membrane for ultra-low power controlled drug delivery

Nicola Di Trani, Antonia Silvestri, Antons Sizovs, Yu Wang, Donald R. Erm, Danilo Demarchi, Xuewu Liu, Alessandro Grattoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Patient-centered therapeutic management for chronic medical conditions is a desired but unmet need, largely attributable to the lack of adequate technologies for tailored drug administration. While triggered devices that control the delivery of therapeutics exist, they often rely on impractical continuous external activation. As such, next generation continuously tunable drug delivery systems independent of sustained external activation remain an elusive goal. Here we present the development and demonstration of a silicon carbide (SiC)-coated nanofluidic membrane that achieves reproducible and tunable control of drug releaseviaelectrostatic gating. By applying a low-intensity voltage to a buried electrode, we showed repeatable and reproduciblein vitrorelease modulation of three model analytes. A small fluorophore (Alexa Fluor 647), a large polymer poly(sodium 4-styrenesulfonate) and a medically relevant agent (DNA), were selected as representatives of small molecule therapeutics, polymeric drug carriers, and biological therapeutics, respectively. Unlike other drug delivery systems, our technology performed consistently over numerous cycles of voltage modulation, for over 11 days. Importantly, low power consumption and minimal leakage currents were achieved during the study. Further, the SiC coating maintained integrity and chemical inertness, shielding the membrane from degradation under simulated physiological and accelerated conditions for over 4 months. Through leveraging the flexibility offered by electrostatic gating control, our technology provides a valuable strategy for tunable delivery, setting the foundation for the next generation of drug delivery systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1562-1576
Number of pages15
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 7 2020


  • Drug Carriers/chemistry
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Drug Liberation
  • Humans
  • Lab-On-A-Chip Devices
  • Nanotechnology
  • Polystyrenes/chemistry
  • Static Electricity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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