Neural microelectrodes are crucial to the development of neural prostheses used to restore lost motor or sensory functions in the body. However, due to their large and rigid base existing commercial devices (such as the Utah array) damage neural tissue. Additionally, use in clinical applications is limited by their short lifetime – typically a few months to several years.
A new variant of the Utah electrode array minimizes this damage using a bio-erodible substrate. A biocompatible and dissolvable material binds the matrix of electrodes. The substrate dissolves in biological fluid, leaving the electrode array needles freely floating within neural tissue. The free-floating electrode array, nicknamed the “Natural Buoyancy Utah Array” uses the same construction technique of typical Utah arrays, but significantly reduces micro-motion of the array within the brain tissue. This increases array lifetime and improves overall array performance.