Taking direct electrical measurements from a living brain and even from a single neuron cell requires an invasive connection between the localized electrochemical environment in the cell and a sharp, prickly, prodding metal stake of death.
An electrode might sound harmless, but it can take the form of a gigantic (in the reference frame of a tiny neuron) metallic (or other electrical conducting material) needle that could either damage living tissue, or be rejected by the hosting biological system and quickly bombarded in tissue to effectively disengage the pointy invader.
image courtesy PhysOrg.com
Recently, a collaboration lead by Edward Keefer from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, has discovered that coating these harmful–but, necessarily formed–electrical recording devices with the ever popular carbon nanotube is the neuron’s newest fuzzy best friend. The nanotubues act to not only enhance the transmitted signals received from directly implanted electrodes, but they have been shown to be bio-compatible, so that they might even minimize the damage caused to the specimen. In fact, Keefer claims the efficiency of the cell-electrode interface is improved by at least one-thousand times.
The development of neurotechnological devices–hardware that interconnects directly with nervous tissue and even individual neurons–is absolutely dependent on not only the production of electrical connections that will result in highly sensitive signal transmission, but the cells will must also like to have these needles sticking around. The carbon nanotube coating approach could be a critical step in advancing neurotechnology to a future level of high-res recording devices as well as localized, highly-controllable stimulus systems.
“Carbon Nanotube-Coated Electrodes Improve Brain Readouts” :: PhysOrg.com :: August 12, 2008 :: [ READ ]