Researchers Design Electronic Devices That Melt in the Brain

Patti MayonnaiseMay 13, 20161,383 Views
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A team of scientists from both America and China have recently wrapped up designs for devices that dissolve in your brain over a period of time. Their efforts are aimed at eliminating a number of current problems so often associated with implants. Researchers with the University of Pennsylvania developed the electrode and electrode array comprised of layers made of silicon and molybdenum. These materials measure physiological characteristics such as neuron signals while dissolving at a varying rate (determined by the thickness of the material.)

So far, the team has used the device in anesthetized lab rats to record brain waves (EEGs) and induce epileptic spikes in intact living tissue. Other experiments proved that the dissolvable electronics could potentially be utilized in a complex, multiplexed ECoG (intracranial electroencephalography) array over the course of 30 days.


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This kind of new technology may offer equal or greater resolution for measuring a brain’s electrical activity when compared to conventional electrodes. In fact, professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Bioengineerign at the Perlman School of Medicine, Brian Litt MD believes “it could eliminate “the risks, cost, and discomfort associated with surgery to extract current devices used for post-operative monitoring.”

Some other hopeful uses for such dissolving devices:

  • Disorders and diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, depression, chronic pain and conditions of the peripheral nervous system
  • Monitoring and recording of physiological characteristic following minimally invasive placement of vascular, cardiac, orthopaedic, neural or other devices during post-op phases
  • Heart and brain surgery applications like aneurysm coiling, stent placement, embolization, and endoscopic operations
  • Even more complicated devices including flow, pressure and more measurement capabilities


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All research for the project has been funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Penn Medicine Neuroscience Center, a T32- Brain Injury Research Training Grant, the Mirowski Family Foundation and by donations from Neil and Barbara Smit.

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