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Graphene-based flexible neural interfaces for the peripheral nervous system

18th national competition for scientific and technical research

Graphene, foundations and applications

Senior Researcher : José Antonio Garrido Ariza

Research Centre or Institution : Instituto Catalán de Nanociencia y Nanotecnología. Bellaterra, Barcelona.

Sinopsis

After loss of a limb, there is a major reduction of motor and sensory tasks that disrupts patient’s ability to perform several activities of daily living. Neuroprostheses are the most advanced solution to partially restore or substitute the lost sensory and motor functions. These neuroprosthetic systems include an interface with the peripheral nerve which requires fast, selective and bi-directional flow of information between the nervous system and the device.

This project aims at exploring graphene-based technology for neural electrodes designed to interface the peripheral nervous system. The main objectives of the project are: 1) To develop the technology for the fabrication of graphene sensors and stimulating devices on flexible substrates, and 2) to assess the efficacy of the bidirectional electrical communication of these devices in the peripheral nervous system.

Within this project, a thin and porous material based on graphene that overcomes the main limitations of current neurointerfaces technology has been developed, a neural interface using the developed new graphene as electrical active material has been designed, and its fabrication has been refined. Regarding biological results, biocompatibility of the material has been demonstrated in vitro showing no toxicity in neurons. In vivo, it does not induce chronic damage when the material is implanted in the nerve. Regarding the functionality of the electrode, the device is suitable to be implanted within the nerve and is able to selectively stimulate subsets of axons within the sciatic nerve to induce the activation of three different muscular fascicles. Significantly, the designed electrode needs less current to activate motor nerve fibers compared with standard metallic electrodes, reducing potential tissue damage, decreasing power consumption and with the potential of longer window of effective stimulation. Final tests are aimed to evaluate functionality in the long-term and the possibility to record nerve signals.

 

Scientific Production
 
Magazine Articles 3
Communications at national conferences 2
Communications at international conferences 17

 

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