The potential of neurostimulation devices with a graphene monolayer to treat neurological diseases

An image to illustrate the concept of neurostimulation devices with a graphene monolayer which could help to treat neurological diseases
© iStock/koto_feja

Researchers at Purdue University have added a graphene monolayer to implantable neurostimulation devices, which has the potential to treat neurological diseases.

Although implantable neurostimulation devices are commonly used to treat some neurological diseases, their platinum microelectrodes are prone to corrosion which causes a shorter device lifetime. The Purdue University research published in 2D Materials explores how adding a graphene monolayer can protect the microelectrodes of the devices.

The impact of neurological diseases

According to Purdue University:

  • There is an ongoing increase in the number of neurological disease in the United States is seeing an increase in the number of neurological diseases;
  • Stroke is ranked as the fifth leading cause of death;
  • Alzheimer’s being ranked sixth leading cause of death; and
  • Parkinson’s affects nearly 1 million people in the U.S. each year.

The reliability of neurostimulation devices

Hyowon “Hugh” Lee, an assistant professor in Purdue’s College of Engineering and a researcher at the Birck Nanotechnology Center, who led the research team. “I know from my industry experience that the reliability of implantable devices is a critical issue for translating technology into clinics.”

The graphene monolayer

The team has shown that the graphene monolayer is an effective diffusion barrier and electrical conductor.

Lee commented: “This is part of our research focusing on augmenting and improving implantable devices using nano and microscale technologies for more reliable and advanced treatments. We are the first ones that I know of to address the platinum corrosion issue in neurostimulation microelectrodes.”

The future of neurostimulation therapy

Lee said that microscale electrodes are going to play a key role in the future of precise and targeted neurostimulation therapy. “We think neurosurgeons, neurologists, and other scientists in neuroengineering field will be able to use this electrode technology to better help patients with implantable devices for restoring eyesight, movement, and other lost functionalities,” added Lee.

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