Building a New Generation of Brain-Computer Interfaces on Glassy Carbon

Achievement date: 
2018
Outcome/accomplishment: 

Researchers at the Center for Neurotechnology (CNT), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) at San Diego State University (SDSU), have developed a polymer to supersede precious metals as the material of choice for neurological electrodes. The novel glassy carbon electrodes can simultaneously detect and electrical and chemical signals.

Impact/benefits: 

The ability to measure electrocorticographic (ECoG) and neurotransmitter signals together in real-time can advance research in Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and other spinal cord injuries and diseases. As a tool in itself, researchers expect that it will lead to better understand synapse activity.

Explanation/Background: 

The benefits of glassy carbon over platinum, gold, and titanium are numerous. They record cleaner signals, have superior electrochemical properties, are more resistant to corrosion, reduce scar tissue through better biocompatibility, and are more durable.

The creation of glassy carbon electrodes is a product of Sam Kassegne and his team’s extensive experience in developing microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) for neurological applications. The resultant technology will advance research in the complex electrochemical processes at the synapses.

Glassy carbon electrodes were created at the NeuroMEMS lab at partner institution SDSU. CNT is headquartered at the University of Washington (UW).