Life of Biomedical Gadgets

Prolonging Life of Biomedical Gadgets by Improving Adhesion with Electrografting

Modern-age humans have found a way to coexist with technology to the point where they have become crucial to life, as in the case of pacemakers, or otherwise made life easier, e.g. artificial limbs, cochlear implants, and smart technology-based wearables. To help ensure longevity of implanted biomedical devices, a scientist from University of Delaware (UD), along with a team of engineers, have developed an electrografting surface modification method that improves adhesion between biological neural tissue and inorganic surfaces.

In order for implanted devices to function properly within the body, successful interface, or communication, between nervous system components (largely directed by the brain) and the mechanical object has to occur. Scientists have been exploring a conjugated polymer called PEDOT, or poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene), for its potential role as the interface. However, in experiments PEDOT was found to have limited adhesive properties to solid substrates, or mechanical devices. As a result, harmful residue can deposit into surrounding tissue, thereby shortening the lifespan of the device.

Adhesion by electrografting surface modification is the solution concocted by the UD scientists. Electrograft is an electrochemical oxidation-reduction reaction by which organic molecules attach to solid conducting substrates by forming a metallorganic bond at the substrate-polymer interface. The conventional process usually takes several steps, but the scientists have created a two-step method that produces a strong PEDOT film that tightly bonds organic tissue to metal objects, while maintaining electrical activity, or communication, between the two components. Another advantage of using electrografts is that a wide variety of materials can be used as the conducting substrate, including gold, platinum, nickel, stainless steel, silicon, metal oxides, and glassy carbon.

With increasing dependence on biotechnology to keep humans alive, extending the life of biomedical gadgets becomes increasingly vital. With enhanced adhesive properties of PEDOT via electrografting, both staying alive and staying alive longer can be achievable.

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