Scientists Developed Soft Electronics for Recording Brain Signals and Neural Monitoring

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The device is composed from Soft electronics can assist physicians to diagnose and monitor neurological conditions for long term.

Scientists from ETH Zurich in Switzerland, Linköping University in Sweden and Columbia and NYU in New York City, have developed flexible soft electronic neural interface probe to monitor conditions such as epilepsy. The probe is made of Silicon rubber elastomer containing gold-coated titanium dioxide nanowire electrodes. Each electrode is 50 μm in size. It can be stretched twice as of its original length and it is as soft as human tissue. It may have applications in brain-machine interfaces, such as those controlling prosthetic limbs in near future.

As a part of the study, researchers examined the efficiency of device in rats. The device efficiently recorded neural signals for three months consistently. Also, the data is used to determine particular part of the brain where neural signal is originated. “This type of spatiotemporal information is important for future applications. We hope to be able to see, for example, where the signal that causes an epileptic seizure starts, a prerequisite for treating it,” said Tybrandt. “Another area of application is brain-machine interfaces, by which future technology and prostheses can be controlled with the aid of neural signals.”

Currently, long-term neural monitoring is challenging, as electrical components can damage delicate neural tissue. “As human tissue is elastic and mobile, damage and inflammation arise at the interface with rigid electronic components,” said Klas Tybrandt, a researcher involved in the study. “It not only causes damage to tissue; it also attenuates neural signals.” This design allows the probe to remain in place over long periods. “We have developed a process to manufacture small electrodes that also preserves the biocompatibility of the materials,” said Tybrandt. “The process uses very little material, and this means that we can work with a relatively expensive material such as gold, without the cost becoming prohibitive.”

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