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Bionic Parts

Bionic Parts

Dec 20th 2016 @ Neo Sxoliko

Samos, Greece
I Was There
Tuesday, December 20th, 2016
4:00 AM
Neo Sxoliko
Samos, Greece
Abstract: Small, compliant electrodes may minimize the foreign body response in the brain, enabling the next generation of chronically implanted neural recording arrays. Conventional electrode arrays implanted into cortical areas are made from rigid materials such as crystalline silicon and ultimately lead to glial scarring and neuronal cell death at the recording site.

Our work to develop a carbon-based neural interface involves several challenges, including materials selection, electronic device development, and surgical implantation techniques. As electrodes decrease in size, an impedance increase at the interface may diminish signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) considerably. However, a material with "fractal-like" surface roughness can be used to create a capacitive interface that is less impacted by thermal noise, thereby improving SNR. With this strategy in mind, we have chosen to study two types of carbonaceous wire--either graphene-based or carbon nanotube-based. Due to the flexible nature of these materials, biocompatibility is good but surgical insertion is a challenge.

As a first step, we have developed a drawing method to encase the microelectrodes in a water-soluble glass. Upon dissolution of the glass, we are left with a viable recording site for at least 3 days (chronic experiments to follow). The final challenge of the project involves fabricating electronic devices with carbonaceous wire electrodes. Due to a lack of compatible bonding methods (i.e., one can't weld to carbon), we applied a technique from the diamond tooling industry to "metallize" these materials to improve their workability.

Bio: Nick is from the USA! He completed a bachelor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. He worked for 1 year at a start-up company called Cook MyoSite investigating stem cell therapies to restore contractility of the infarcted heart. Next, he undertook a research internship at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) with Dr Lauren Ayton. A blurry series of events later, he met a savvy New Zealander who would later become his PhD supervisor. He is still in the throes of his PhD, but he's (probably) 16/21 of the way through!

Speaker: Nick Apollo, Bionics Institute / University of Melbourne