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Silk-Printed Circuits Dissolve into Your Brain, Improve Neural Recording

Wired reports that scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have created an ultrathin brain implant made from silk that could revolutionize brain-computer interface (BCI) design. BCI implants are used to record paralyzed patients' brain signals, which can be translated into computer or robotic movements. By printing electrodes onto a thin and flexible silk film, doctors could monitor parts of the brain that have never before been reached, and do it with more accuracy too.

The silk BCI is just 2.5-microns thick, or about 1/40th the thickness of a sheet of paper. A typical silicone-based BCI, on the other hand, is about 30-times thicker and much more rigid -- so much so, in fact, that it can even damage brain tissue. Once the silk-based BCI is placed on the brain tissue, scientists soak the device with a saline solution. That causes the silk to safely dissolve, and causes the electrodes to mold, and stick, to the surface of the brain. "This will significantly improve recording by conforming the electrode array to the surface of the brain," Barclay Morrison, a biomedical engineer at Columbia University, told Wired.

There are still some design hurdles and obvious risks involved with implanting a silk BCI, but this device is one of the more promising brain implant breakthroughs we've seen in some time. Plus, there's potential to use a similar design for other types of implants. Look out, Lee Majors. [From: Wired]

Tags: brain, electronics, health, implant, medical, neuroscience, paralyzed, research, science, top