Klas Tybrandt, principal investigator at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics at Linköping University, has developed new technology for long-term stable neural recording. It is based on a novel elastic material composite, which is biocompatible and retains high electrical conductivity even when stretched to double its original length.
The result has been achieved in collaboration with colleagues in Zürich and New York. The breakthrough, which is crucial for many applications in biomedical engineering, is described in an article published in the prestigious scientific journal Advanced Materials.
The coupling between electronic components and nerve cells is crucial not only to collect information about cell signalling, but also to diagnose and treat neurological disorders and diseases, such as epilepsy.
It is very challenging to achieve long-term stable connections that do not damage neurons or tissue, since the two systems, the soft and elastic tissue of the body and the hard and rigid electronic components, have completely different mechanical properties.
“As human tissue is elastic and mobile, damage and inflammation arise at the interface with rigid electronic components. It not only causes damage to tissue; it also attenuates neural signals,” says Klas Tybrandt, leader of the Soft Electronics group at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Linkoping University, Campus Norrkoping.
Klas Tybrandt has developed a new conductive material that is as soft as human tissue and can be stretched to twice its length. The material consists of gold coated titanium dioxide nanowires, embedded into silicone rubber. The material is biocompatible – which means it can be in contact with the body without adverse effects – and its conductivity remains stable over time.