A newly developed polymer surface could improve the interface between electronic implants and living tissue, helping to advance a technology that may one day enable the blind to see and the paralyzed to walk. The findings were described today at the 34th Central Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, the worlds largest scientific society. The meeting is being held at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.
David C. Martin, Director of the Macromolecular Science and Engineering Center at the University of Michigan, presented research on polymers that can be processed into a "fuzzy" form to enhance the compatibility of electronic implants with brain tissue.
Electrodes implanted in the brain can pick up electrical signals sent back and forth by nerve cells. The tiny devices — about a millimeter long — are coated with growth factors that encourage brain tissue to grow into them. The intent is for each probe to make contact with a series of neurons, allowing it to receive signals it can interpret and use to activate an external device. The technique has been called a spinal cord bypass. It could help patients with brain disorders and paralysis operate artificial limbs or control a computer mouse by simply thinking about the task.
Sharon Worthy | EurekAlert!
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