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Microimplants as neural interfaces in bioelectronics medicine

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Neural interfaces cover the wet interface between electronic and biological circuits and systems. They need to establish stable and reliable functional interfaces to the target structure in chronic application in neuroscientific experiments but especially in clinical applications in humans. Proper selection of substrate, insulation and electrode materials is of utmost importance to bring the interface in close contact with the neural target structures, minimize foreign body reaction after implantation and maintain functionality over the complete implantation period. Our work has focused on polymer substrates with integrated thin-film metallization as core of our flexible neural interfaces approach and silicone rubber with metal sheets. Micromachining and laser structuring are the main technologies for electrode array manufacturing. Different design and development aspects from the first idea to first-in-human studies are presented and discussed. Reliability data from long-term ageing studies and chronic experiments show the applicability of thin-film implants for stimulation and recording and ceramic packages for electronics protection. Examples of sensory feedback after amputation trauma, vagal nerve stimulation to treat hypertension and chronic recordings from the brain surface display opportunities and challenges of these miniaturized implants. System assembly and interfacing microsystems to robust cables and connectors still is a major challenge in translational research and transition of research results into medical products.

This talk is part of the Electrical Engineering series.

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