As many existing 2D and 3D arrays of silicon electrodes are prohibitively fragile and expensive, and thus they are impractical for use in many contexts. Additionally, these existing arrays have a relatively low density of electrodes, meaning that they cannot achieve the resolution required for applications such as precision neuroprosthetics.
By this new manufacturing method for the fabrication of neural probes based on 3D nanoparticle printing. This new technology will dramatically increase accessibility to brain tissue, as well as the number of electrodes that can fit in a small area and will give researchers the ability to prototype new electrode configurations at the click of a button, on demand, within a few hours.
Arrays of silicon electrodes
This research proposes to use a novel additive manufacturing (AM) method; that uses 3D nanoparticle printing to fabricate customizable, ultra-high density neural probes; such as brain-machine interfaces or BMIs. The recording densities of the probes will be an order of magnitude higher than that made by any current method. But new 3D nanoparticle printing technology promises to overcome; the field’s current limitations in terms of sampling, structure, reliability, and cost.
By producing customizable, 3D printed neural probes; the team believes that their research has the potential to profoundly change the course of neuroscience research. Electrodes can give us millisecond, single neuron resolution; but even with the most recent advances you might only be able to get information from 300 or 400 neurons at a time. With my expertise in neuroscience and Rahul’s pioneering 3D printing technique based on aerosol jet technology; we decided to combine our interests to bridge this gap that exists between the two ways neuroscience is classically done.
3D printing the electrodes
By combining their research areas; Panat and Yttri will use their unique collaboration to make an entirely 3D printed microelectrode array, the first of its kind. By 3D printing the electrodes with our high throughput method; we can put the recording sites as close together or far away as we want. And the nature of the electrodes structure; means they can be implanting in the brain much easier and with less damage than the current state of the art.
The long-term goal for this project is to create precision medical devices; such as brain-machine interfaces (BMIs). Not only will these devices be more precise, but they will be more customizable to the patients. A patient needing an electrode for a neuroprosthetic, for example, could be given a device that; using structural MRI, could be customized on a patient by patient basis; to map to the individual curves of the brain.