Challenges in the Fabrication of Biodegradable and Implantable Optical Fibers for Biomedical Applications

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The limited penetration depth of visible light in biological tissues has encouraged researchers to develop novel implantable light-guiding devices. Optical fibers and waveguides that are made from biocompatible and biodegradable materials offer a straightforward but effective approach to overcome this issue. In the last decade, various optically transparent biomaterials, as well as different fabrication techniques, have been investigated for this purpose, and in view of obtaining fully fledged optical fibers. This article reviews the state-of-the-art in the development of biocompatible and biodegradable optical fibers. Whilst several reviews that focus on the chemical properties of the biomaterials from which these optical waveguides can be made have been published, a systematic review about the actual optical fibers made from these materials and the different fabrication processes is not available yet. This prompted us to investigate the essential properties of these biomaterials, in view of fabricating optical fibers, and in particular to look into the issues related to fabrication techniques, and also to discuss the challenges in the use and operation of these optical fibers. We close our review with a summary and an outline of the applications that may benefit from these novel optical waveguides
Original languageEnglish
Article number1972
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2021


  • biomedical materials; fiber fabrication; optical polymers; polymer optical fibers


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