Utah electrode arrays have rigid bases that damage brain tissue following insertion. Yet, flexible arrays developed to reduce tissue damage are often difficult to handle and properly insert, often requiring larger shuttles to facilitate insertion. The use of these shuttles can cause more tissue trauma than the smaller, rigid electrode arrays the flexible arrays are designed to replace.
A University of Utah researcher has developed an electrode wire made of gallium and surrounded by a polymer sheath that is rigid upon insertion and softens once in the body, facilitating insertion without a large shuttle. Additionally, once the gallium liquefies at body temperature, the electrodes will likely inflict less damage to neural tissues, due to their flexibility.