Conducting polymer electrodes for auditory brainstem implants
The auditory brainstem implant (ABI) restores hearing in patients with damaged auditory nerves. One of the main ideas to improve the efficacy of ABIs is to increase spatial specificity of stimulation, in order to minimize extra-auditory side-effects and to maximize the tonotopy of stimulation. This study reports on the development of a microfabricated conformable electrode array with small (100 μm diameter) electrode sites. The latter are coated with a conducting polymer, PEDOT:PSS, to offer high charge injection properties and to safely stimulate the auditory system with small stimulation sites. We report on the design and fabrication of the polymer implant, and characterize the coatings in physiological conditions in vitro and under mechanical deformation. We characterize the coating electrochemically and during bending tests. We present a proof of principle experiment where the auditory system is efficiently activated by the flexible polymeric interface in a rat model in vivo. These results demonstrate the potential of using conducting polymer coatings on small electrode sites for electrochemically safe and efficient stimulation of the central auditory system.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Bioelectronics