Researchers Continue to Use Graphene to Improve Medical Technology

A blue light shines through a transparent, implantable medical sensor onto a brain. The invention may help neural researchers better view brain activity. (credit: Justin Williams research group)

Ever since researchers made a breakthrough with graphene back in 2014, it has been the center of many different research projects and is probably the most promising material known that could be used for neural transparency electrodes. This is due to that fact that it has a UV to IR transparency of over 90%, a high level of electrical and thermal conductivity, it’s biocompatible, and it’s flexible.




Just recently a paper published in the journal Nature Protocols described how to make and use neural micro electrocorticography arrays that are made with a transparent graphene in various applications including optical coherence tomography, optogenetics, fluorescent microscopy, and electrophysiology.

Left: Optical coherence tomography (OCT) image captured through an implanted transparent graphene electrode array, allowing for simultaneous observation of cells immediately beneath electrode sites during optical or electrical stimulation. Right: Optical coherence tomography (OCT) image taken with an implanted conventional opaque platinum electrode array. (credit: Dong-Wook Park et al./Nature Protocols)
Left: Optical coherence tomography (OCT) image captured through an implanted transparent graphene electrode array, allowing for simultaneous observation of cells immediately beneath electrode sites during optical or electrical stimulation. Right: Optical coherence tomography (OCT) image taken with an implanted conventional opaque platinum electrode array. (credit: Dong-Wook Park et al./Nature Protocols)

The paper goes on to explain that the protocol for having a graphene electrode array implanted on the cerebral cortex “may be amenable to fabrication and testing of a multitude of other electrode arrays used in biological research, such as penetrating neural electrode arrays to study deep brain, nerve cuffs that are used to interface with the peripheral nervous system (PNS), or devices that interface with the muscular system.”

The research will continue to be carried out into the possibilities and uses of graphene throughout the technology and medical fields, especially in terms of applications for epilepsy, stroke, Parkinson’s or cardiac sufferers, among others. The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is responsible for the initial funding of the project while a collaboration of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Washington, Medtronic PLC Neuromodulation, and Mahidol University in Bangkok were involved. The whole project was led by Zhenqiang Ma and Justin Williams, both from UW-Madison.





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