Stretchable Micro-electrode Arrays for Traumatic Brain Injury Studies
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the main causes of death and disabilities worldwide. When injury occurs (e.g., in a bomb explosion or a car accident), brain tissues experience a mechanical stress caused by the impact, which leads to immediate or delayed neuronal dysfunction and cell death. Electrophysiologists can model this process in vitro by rapidly stretching brain slice cultures and studying their electrical response to different treatments, to figure out the best drug to rescue damaged tissue and to reduce the injury to a minimum. The electrophysiology of brain tissue can be monitored with commercially available micro-electrode arrays (MEAs), which however are made on rigid glass and therefore cannot be stretched. We have designed and fabricated stretchable microelectrode arrays of gold on silicone elastomer; a sample is shown in its stretched state. Brain tissue cultures grown on these can be stretched to model traumatic injury, and their electrophysiology can be monitored before, during, and after stretching. We carry out this research in collaboration with the group of Prof. Barclay Morrison III of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University. Photy by Wenzhe Cao.