There has been a new development in flexible gold. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have developed gold electrodes that can be used for safer and more accurate brain function monitoring.
The brain floats in liquid within the skull and moves around whenever the head moves – even with breathing. Today’s brain electrodes are either completely solid, or partially flexible with solid sections for electrically conductive chips. Since the brain is so mobile, these electrodes can rub against brain tissue, damaging the structures from which they are supposed to be gathering data. This makes long term monitoring quite problematic.
The Lund team’s electrode is laser-cut from sheets of gold only 10 microns thick. The gold is formed into an array of eight flexible leads, which are insulated in a very soft biocompatible polymer called parylene C. The entire electrode is shaped to monitor specific structures, then coated in a layer of gelatin to lock the shape in place and make it stiff enough to insert into the brain. Once in place, the gelatin harmlessly dissolves and the electrode can start gathering data.
Clearer data on how brains send signals between their many structures could help doctors gain a better understanding of neurological diseases and disorders. Thanks to these electrodes, doctors will be able to see the brain in a whole new way!