A new microelectrode array clearly recorded multiple nerve signals simultaneously, demonstrating the device’s success in a medium-sized animal for the first time. The electrode was embedded in a dog’s sciatic nerve. Researchers are seeking to tap into nerve signals using microscopic electrodes for a variety of human applications, including prosthetic limbs.
To overcome challenges associated with electrodes placed in or on nerves, the scientists developed a flexible penetrating microelectrode array. The array is made of multiple silicon needle microelectrodes laid out in a grid atop a flexible support platform. A 4 x 4 electrode array spans about 4 mm2. The electrodes are affixed to a clear communication cable that is just 2 mm wide and 60.7 mm (2 in.) long and consists of titanium and gold wires covered in a flexible polymer, parylene C. The cable runs to a microconnector protruding out of the skin, which connects to an amplifier that magnifies the signals.
The array is expected to cause less damage to surrounding tissue than comparable devices because of its flexible materials and design. The researchers want to reduce the size and weight of the assembly to minimize side effects. Eventually, they want to eliminate the communication cable completely and move to wireless data transmission.