A Korean research team has successfully developed a technique to make a new material that can measure brainwaves without making an incision into a patient's scalp.
A research team headed by Dr. Lee Hyung-jung from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology announced on Feb. 11 that they have succeeded in developing a new material with a mesh structure capable of detecting even weak biosignals when attached to a human skull. It was done by combining a single-layer carbon nanotube and a substance that the team calls P8GB#1.
Biosignals from a brain, a heart, and muscles are usually delivered in the form of ions. It is possible to get various kinds of information by changing ion signals into electronic signals and analyzing the result using electronic devices.
The research team discovered P8GB#1, a substance with a tendency to stick to single-layer carbon nanotubes, producing a highly-conductive nanomesh. The material with a minute mesh structure can detect electronic signals owing to the large contact surface.
They made high-density flexible electrodes for brains with the nanomesh and attached them to a mouse's skull to measure high-frequency brainwaves. They found that the new electrodes were able to detect brainwaves four times as much as exiting ones. So far, it has only been possible to measure high-frequency brainwaves by making an incision into the scalp and inserting electrodes. This is due to the fact that signals coming from those brainwaves are weak.
The newly-developed electrodes are seven times less resistant to direct contact with the human body than existing ones. Therefore, they can directly be used with the human body. It is also possible to utilize them in wearable devices, since new electrodes are excellent to make contacts with different kinds of substrates.
Dr. Lee said, “The new method could facilitate the easier production of large conductive nanomesh.” Lee added, “Due to its low contact resistance and highly-flexible nature, the material could be used to manufacture wearable devices for medical purposes or flexible bio-sensors.”
The research findings were first published online on Feb. 4 by Advanced Materials, a weekly scientific journal covering materials science.