A new glassy carbon electrode developed for MRI scans

Service Engineering

San Diego State University engineers (SDSU) have collaborated with researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), to develop a more durable, MRI compatible electrode as an improvement on the current heat producing thin-film platinum or iridium oxide version that can obstruct MRI images and create discomfort by vibrating or moving during a scan.

SDSU’s product can read chemical and electrical signals from the brain, which is a significant improvement on the metal based electrodes that can only read electrical signals. Furthermore, collaborators at KIT created a novel instrument which facilitates the exact measuring of vibrations throughout an MRI scan, and they were able to confirm that placing the new carbon electrodes directly in the MRI scanner is a safer alternative.

“SDSU have collaborated with KIT to develop a glassy electrode. “

The carbon electrode was first developed at SDSU in 2017, with the aim of sending and receiving stronger signals, and to have more longevity in the brain without eroding. Researchers found the glassy carbon material can endure three-point-five billion cycles of electrical impulse application, versus one-hundred million cycles for the inferior metal electrode.

First author of ‘Nature Microsystems & Nano-engineering’ (NMNE) and doctoral candidate, Surabhi Nimbalkar, stated: “Our lab testing shows that unlike the metal electrode, the glassy carbon electrode does not get magnetised by the MRI, so it won’t irritate the patient’s brain.”

Senior author of NMNE and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at SDSU, Sam Kassegne, stated: “It’s supposed to be embedded for a lifetime, but the issue is that metal electrodes degrade, so we’ve been looking at how to make it last a lifetime. Inherently, the carbon thin-film material is homogenous so it has very few defective surfaces. Platinum has grains of metal which become the weak spots vulnerable to corrosion.”

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