Scientists develop inkjet-printed sensor for brain signal amplification

To delve into the complexities of brain disorders and uncover potential treatments, it becomes imperative to scrutinize and decode the brain’s intricate signals. Although neural probes adeptly detect subtle bio-signals, they lack the ability to amplify and process these neural messages, necessitating the integration of a separate amplifier. Enter a remarkable solution found in the unlikeliest of places - common household inkjet printers, long a staple in our homes.

A collaborative team of researchers, led by Professor Sungjune Jung from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Convergence IT Engineering at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), along with Ph.D. candidate Yongwoo Lee, Professor Eun-Hee Kim from Chungnam National University Sejong Hospital, and Professor George Malliaras from the University of Cambridge, has pioneered an integrated sensor with the dual capability of capturing bio-signals and enhancing their amplification and processing.

The results of this groundbreaking study will grace the inside cover of Advanced Materials, shedding light on their remarkable findings.

Inkjet printing, a technology that fabricates intricate patterns by depositing minuscule ink droplets, each on the scale of picoliters (10^-12), onto various surfaces, played a central role in this innovative breakthrough.

The initial stride of this research venture involved crafting an ultra-thin substrate, measuring merely one-hundredth the thickness of a human hair. Achieving this feat required the use of an exceptionally flexible material that seamlessly adheres to the brain’s delicate surface.

Subsequently, the research team harnessed the power of inkjet technology to imprint a sensor onto this ultra-thin substrate. This sensor possesses a remarkable set of abilities, including the detection, amplification, and processing of bio-signals - essentially, a brain signal amplifier in sensor form.

(a) High-resolution electrophysiological recordings captured during anesthetized and pathological recordings captured during a seizure state over extended time intervals. (b) Diagram illustrating the placement of sensors within a cross-sectoral view of the rat brain, serving as a model.(c) Signals obtained from the amplified sensor (red) exhibit superior signal resolution and magnitude in comparison to signals collected using electrodes (blue). Additionally, a distinct 5-10 Hz oscillatory signal during seizures was successfully detected by the amplified sensor as evident in the time-frequency spectrogram when contrasted with the signal recorded by the implanted electrode (black). Credit: POSTECH

With the sensor in hand, the researchers embarked on experiments involving mice. The results were nothing short of astounding, as the sensor swiftly recorded high-resolution brain-originating signals when attached to the cerebral cortex of the test subjects.

Professor Sungjune Jung, the driving force behind this technological breakthrough, eloquently stated, “This technology empowers us to effortlessly create patterns in specific areas, opening the door to the future manufacturing of personalized bio-signal measurement devices.”

Source: Pohang University of Science and Technology

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