Nanowire technology will improve brain-stimulating implants
Scientists at Lund University have published a paper about a new nanowire thread (only 80 nanometres in diameter) that will work to strengthen brain implants. Neuro-prostheses are currently used to stimulate and collect information from the brain of those with Parkinson's disease, along with other illnesses. However, one of the biggest problems that current tech faces is that the brain identifies the implant as a foreign object and uses cellular material to surround the electrode, resulting in a loss of signal. With the newly developed technology, this will (hopefully) no longer be the case.
"Our nanowire structure prevents the cells that usually encapsulate the electrodes – glial cells – from doing so", says Christelle Prinz who is the co-creator of this technology. The structure is made out of a gallium phosphide semiconductor with nanowires sticking out. While glial cells can grow on the flat semiconductor, neurons can grow on the nanowires. This way they're close, but not so close that the neurons are affected, which leads to better, longer lasting implants. So far the nanowire has only been tested in cultured samples, but because of the positive results, tests should begin in live subjects soon.