UCLA researchers in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering have developed a novel multi-functional neural probe with ultra-large tunable stiffness for electrochemical sensing and chemical delivery in the brain.
Measuring brain activity has enormous applications including disease diagnosis and monitoring, as well as machine interface. Acquiring high quality signals requires invasive approaches, such as using embedded electrodes and neural probes. A lot of these devices are stiff and incompatible with the soft brain tissue, causing tissue damage and scar formation, which further degrades the measured signals. Additionally, inserting probes deep into the brain often requires a stiff shuttle that requires retraction, which could disturb the probes.
A novel multi-functional, flexible and stretchable neural probe with ultra-large tunable stiffness (ULTS) was developed for electrochemical sensing and chemical delivery in the brain tissue. It consists of a soft PDMS substrate and liquid metal gallium (Ga) for electrical interconnects and temporary stiffening material. It can be inserted deep into tissues in its cool and stiff state. Upon melting of Ga, it becomes ultra-soft, flexible and stretchable in all directions. It is also equipped with microfluidic channels for drug delivery and platinum (Pt) electrodes for high quality electrochemical sensing.
Ultra-large tunable stiffness, Neural probes, Liquid metal, brain activity, electrochemical sensing, chemical delivery, electrodes, disease monitoring