• Home  / 
  • Featured
  •  /  Helping Paralyzed Patients With Graphene Electrodes

Helping Paralyzed Patients With Graphene Electrodes

Brain Stimulation

A point-of-principle study has shown that graphene-based electrodes can be successfully implanted in the brain and can interface with neurones. Graphene is a remarkable material, a two-dimensional form of carbon that is very strong, lightweight, conductive and transparent.

The aim with the graphene based electrodes is to help those who have lost sensory function – for example, paralyzed patients or amputees. The electrodes may also help those who suffer from epilepsy or even from neurodegenerative diseases.

Key to the new electrodes is the conductive properties of graphene. Since the neurons in the brain use electrical activity, the theoretical premise was worth exploring. Researchers think that by measuring and stimulating the brain’s electrical impulses, then sensory functions can be recovered. This technique could, for example, be used to control robotic arms for amputee patients.

Materials currently used to make electrodes, such as tungsten, lose properties over time. It is hoped that graphene-based electrodes last for much longer. Graphene is biomedically compatible and, based on studies to date, it appears a suitable material for deep brain implants.

One of the lead researchers, Professor Andrea Ferrari, Director of the Cambridge Graphene Centre, stated in a briefing note:

“These initial results show how we are just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential of graphene and related materials in bio-applications and medicine.”

The study was carried out at the University of Trieste in Italy and the Cambridge Graphene Centre. The findings are published in journal ACS Nano. The paper is titled “Graphene-Based Interfaces Do Not Alter Target Nerve Cells.”

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.