Materials and Technology for Ultra-compliant Neural Electrode Arrays
Speaker: Professor Stephanie Lacour, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Series: Topical Seminars
Location: Engineering Quadrangle B205
Date/Time: Monday, December 3, 2012, 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Neural interfaces with high sensitivity and selectivity are essential tools to expand our knowledge in neuroscience, and to develop therapeutic solutions for neurodegenerative diseases and neuroprostheses. The latter require electrodes designed to communicate bi-directionally with the central or peripheral nervous systems.
One associated challenge is the mechanical mismatch between the neural tissue and traditional neural electrode design: microelectrode arrays (MEAs) do not conform reliably with neural tissue, and the implant often triggers severe inflammatory response and foreign body reactions. Over time these induce changes in the electrode-neuron interface.
We are exploring how MEAs prepared with a mechanically compliant material, i.e., silicone rubber combined with microfabrication techniques, can be used to produce MEAs and implants with improved biomechanical compatibility. Such ultra-compliant electrodes rely on elastic thin-film metallization, which can sustain repeated and large bending, stretching and twisting. The potential of this technology will be illustrated in the context of spinal cord injury, auditory brainstem implants and peripheral nerve interfaces.