See-through sensor shows the inside of your brain

A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers have developed see-through brain implant sensors, said to help doctors and researchers study and monitor brain activity more effectively.

The transparent sensors are made out of graphene, a material that is gaining wider use due to its versatility and biocompatibility, meaning that it is less likely to be rejected by the body. Thanks to its excellent conductive properties, graphene is also allowing the engineers to create incredibly flexible and thin with the electronic circuit elements being only 4 atoms thick.

“It’s got to be very thin and robust to survive in the body,” says Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UW-Madison. “It is soft and flexible, and a good tradeoff between transparency, strength and conductivity.”

Transparent Brain Implant Sensor

Transparent Brain Implant Sensor

Transparency has always been a big problem with traditional implants, interfering imaging diagnostics and preventing researches from investigating any activity underneath the sensor. Therefore a transparent electronic device is said to help overcome this major technological hurdle in the researchers’ efforts to understand the brain, and allow scientists to develop more effective treatments for specific diagnoses in the future. The new sensor is the first sensor that’s compatible with different types of brain scan, remaining transparent at different frequencies, and is said to have application in fields ranging from neuroscience to cardiac care.

“Other implantable microdevices might be transparent at one wavelength, but not at others, or they lose their properties,” Ma adds. “Our devices are transparent across a large spectrum – all the way from ultraviolet to deep infrared. We’ve even implanted them and you cannot find them in an MR scan.”

Besides centring its efforts on neural research, the team is also exploring other medical device application and has partnered with researchers at the University of Illinois- Chicago in creating a prototype contact lens containing dozens of tiny transparent sensors. The sensor could be used to detect injuries to the retina or diagnose glaucoma and other eye problems.

Via ShinyShiny.

Kai-Li Yang

Kai-Li is a tech enthusiast with an in-depth knowledge of mobile technology, music technology and the entertainment industry. She hails from Taiwan and helps Tech Assimilate to erm... assimilate, all the latest tech news and trends from East Asia. Kai-Li Yang on Google+

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