Interfacial Interactions between Implant Electrode and Biological Environment



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Electrodes implanted into neural systems are known to degrade due to encapsulation by surrounding tissues. The mechanisms of electrode-tissue interactions and prediction of the behavior of electrode are yet to be achieved.

This research will aim at establishing the fundamental knowledge of interfacial interactions between the host biological environment and an implanted electrode. We will identify the dynamic mechanisms of such interfacial interactions. Quantitative analysis of the electrical properties of interface will be conducted using Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS). Results will be used to develop a general model to interpret electrical circuitry of the interface. This is expected to expand our understanding in the effects of interfacial interactions to the charge transport.

The interfacial interactions of an implanted electrode with neural system will be studied in two types of electrodes: silver and graphene coated. The interfacial impedance of both samples will be studied using EIS. The development of the cellular interaction will be investigated using histological procedure. X-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS) will be employed to study the chemical effects on the silver electrodes. Atomic force microscopy and Raman spectroscopy will be used for material characterization of graphene-coated electrodes.

In the study of silver electrode, two mechanisms affecting the interfacial impedance are proposed. First is the formation of silver oxide. The other is the immuno-response of tissue encapsulation. Histological results suggest that higher cell density cause higher impedance magnitude at the interface. It is also found that the cellular encapsulation dominates the increase in impedance for longer implanted time.

In the study of graphene-coated electrode, it is found that the graphene can strongly prevent the metal substrate from being oxidized. It not only provides good electrical conductivity for signal transport, but also reduces the speed of the accumulation of tissue around the electrode. Such characteristics of graphene have great potential in the application of neural implant.

Finally, the dynamic mechanisms of biological interaction are proposed. A model is also developed to represent the general circuitry of the interface between an implanted electrode and the neural system. The model has three major components, which are interfacial double layer, cellular encapsulation, and the substrate. The model presented in this study can compensate for selection and prediction of materials and their behaviors.