Purdue University researchers have found that adding a graphene monolayer to devices that protect the platinum microelectrodes of implantable neurostimulation devices can improve the lifetime and reliability of such devices, for the benefit of millions of people who suffer from neurological diseases.

"I know from my industry experience that the reliability of implantable devices is a critical issue for translating technology into clinics," said Hyowon "Hugh" Lee, an assistant professor in Purdue's College of Engineering and a researcher at the Birck Nanotechnology Center, who led the research team. "This is part of our research focusing on augmenting and improving implantable devices using nano and microscale technologies for more reliable and advanced treatments. We are the first ones that I know of to address the platinum corrosion issue in neurostimulation microelectrodes". The team has shown the graphene monolayer to be an effective diffusion barrier and electrical conductor.

"If you attempt to deliver more charge than the electrode can handle, it can corrode the electrode and damage the surrounding tissues," Lee said. He also thinks that microscale electrodes are going to play a key role in the future with more demand for precise and targeted neurostimulation therapy. "We think neurosurgeons, neurologists, and other scientists in neuroengineering field will be able to use this electrode technology to better help patients with implantable devices for restoring eyesight, movement, and other lost functionalities."

Lee and his team are working with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization on patenting and licensing the technology. They are looking for partners interested in licensing it.

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