Carbon Fiber “Microthread” Electrode Can Capture Electrical Signal from Single Neuron Firing
Researchers have come up with what they call a “stealthy neural interface” made from a single carbon fiber and coated with chemicals to make it resistant to proteins in the brain.
The new microthread electrode, designed to pick up signals from a single neuron as it fires, is only about 7 micrometers in diameter. That is the thinnest yet developed, and about 100 times as thin as the conventional metal electrodes widely used to study animal brains.
“We wanted to see if we could radically change implant technology,” says Takashi Kozai, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh and the first author on the paper, published today in the journal Nature Materials. “We want to see an electrode that lasts 70 years.” Researchers need long-lasting electrodes in order to improve brain-machine interfaces.
These systems, in preliminary studies, have allowed paralyzed people to control robotic limbs or a computer mouse. By using electrodes to record the firing of individual brain cells, scientists have learned to decode these signals as representing the movement of a rat’s whiskers or a quadriplegic’s effort to move his arms
(via A Carbon-Fiber Electrode for a Better Connection to the Brain | MIT Technology Review)