SM4: Engineering Biointerfaces with Nanomaterials
EP4: Emerging Silicon Science and Technology

SM6: Transient and Biologically-Inspired Electronics

Mary Donahue, École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint-Étienne

Implantable organic bioelectroinics

Written by Mary Nora Dickson

Brain functions can be monitored and detected using electrical signals. Implantable electrode arrays have been successfully used as therapies for Parkinson’s disease and even blindness and deafness. However, these devices are rigid and can have difficulties integrating into the tissue, inducing scarring.  Researcher Mary Donahue presented on her work on novel flexible implantable electronics with George Malliaras at École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint-Étienne in France.

They utilize thin (4 μm) parylene substrates and PDOT:PSS electrodes. Because of the thin and flexible nature of the substrate, the device is much less invasive than silicon-based devices, and leads to less scarring. The PDOT:PSS was found to be very effective in interfacing with the neurons. The researchers used this architecture to build a device that could locally stimulate the neurons.

Recent work focuses on seizure detection and treatment. Donahue’s team built a device for real-time monitoring of lactate concentration, a predictor of seizure. The group is also designing organic electrodes as ion pumps to locally deliver anti-seizure drugs. This could one day prevent epilepsy patients from having to take high doses of medication or facing the alternative of surgical removal of portions of the brain.


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