Bioactive Conducting Polymers for Optimising the Neural Interface
Increasing demands on neuroprosthetic bioelectrodes have created a need for electrode materials that can support the safe and sustainable delivery of electrical stimulation to excitable tissues. Conducting polymers have become a focal point of research into next-generation electrode materials due to their superior electrical properties for charge transfer in biological environments. Perhaps the greatest potential of conducting polymers within neural applications is their ability to accommodate biofunctionality through the incorporation and controlled release of bioactive molecules. Incorporation of neurotrophic factors, cell adhesion molecules and various drug compounds within conducting polymers has been shown to assist in the development of higher quality tissue–electrode interfaces. However, limitations associated with drug loading and the impact of adding biological molecules on mechanical and electrical properties of biofunctionalised conducting polymers restrict their use in medical device applications. This chapter assesses the role of conducting polymers as bioelectrode materials, means of biofunctionalisation and the resultant challenges and limitations. Furthermore, this chapter evaluates the strategies developed to overcome these limitations in the pursuit of the development of high quality neural interfaces.