Is Plastic the Answer to Brain Interfaces?

Advances in technology and science have now made it possible to chemically modify electricity-conducting plastics to improve their conductivity and make them more elasticated. Removing the brittle characteristic of these electronics allows a number of advances to be made, particularly in medicine as the electrodes produced can act as a second skin.

These plastic electrodes will open up several possibilities in the future for brain interfaces and other electronic implants. For example, they can send out pulses to shock the brain which can help with several issues such as pain relief and mental health. As the brain increases and decreases in size throughout the day, any electronic implants need to be able to stretch and adapt to these differences in order to keep connections strong, so the focus with this research was to make the existing electrodes more flexible.

The plastics used in the research were two types of polymer which were very tightly wound together but the scientists found the result to be far too brittle. After many tests, they discovered that using an additive that is surprisingly often used to thicken soup, they could manipulate the molecular structure of the plastic to make it stretchy, also finding that conductivity improved when the material was stretched out.

 

All advances in these plastic electrodes are currently in the prototype stage but future developments could see some great results for science and medicine.

 

For more information on this research and development, click here.

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