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Production of Conducting Polymer Nanowires for Use as Intravascular Neural Recording Electrodes

B. Ruddy, H. Watanabe, I. Hunter and R.R. LlinĂ¡s
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US

Keywords:
electrospinning, nanowires, conducting polymers, brain research, electrical recording

Abstract:
A crucial factor limiting the adoption of brain-machine interfaces is the invasiveness of conventional microelectrode arrays. Recently, Llinas et al. proposed a new, less invasive form of microelectrode array, utilizing sub-micrometer insulated platinum wires placed in the capillary bed of central nervous system tissue via a catheter. We report the production of sub-micrometer insulated conducting polymer wires by electrospinning, for use as biocompatible intravascular electrodes. Our wires consist of a conductive core of emeraldine salt polyaniline and a poly(ethylene oxide) shell. We produce these wires using a modified version of the coaxial electrospinning technique pioneered by Sun et al., using syringe pumps to control the flow of two polymer solutions through a coaxial nozzle. The resulting fibers are highly conductive, with segments of continuous core-shell morphology several centimeters long. These fibers are tougher and more flexible than platinum wires previously used as intravascular electrodes, and smaller than previously used conducting polymer wires. The use of individual electrospun fibers with complex nanostructures points the way to further adaptation of electrospinning for the production of complex nanostructured fibers.

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