Photothermal inhibition of neural activity with near-infrared-sensitive nanotransducers

Sangjin Yoo, Soonwoo Hong, Yeonho Choi, Ji Ho Park, Yoonkey Nam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


A neural stimulation technique that can inhibit neural activity reversibly and directly without genetic modification is valuable for understating complex brain functions and treating brain diseases. Here, we propose a near-infrared (NIR)-activatable nanoplasmonic technique that can inhibit the electrical activity of neurons by utilizing gold nanorods (GNRs) as photothermal transducers on cellular membranes. The GNRs were bound onto the plasma membrane of neurons and irradiated with NIR light to induce GNR-mediated photothermal heating near the membrane. The electrical activity from the cultured neuronal networks pretreated with GNRs was immediately inhibited upon NIR irradiation, and fully restored when NIR light was removed. The degree of inhibition could be precisely modulated by tuning the laser intensity, thereby enabling restoration of firing of a hyperactive neuronal network with epileptiform activity. This nanotechnological approach to inhibit neural activity provides a powerful therapeutic platform to control cellular functions associated with disordered neural circuits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8040-8049
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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