Materials for Implantable Surface Electrode Arrays: Current Status and Future Directions

Date Published:

2021 Oct 30


Surface electrode arrays are mainly fabricated from rigid or elastic materials, and precisely manipulated ductile metal films, which offer limited stretchability. However, the living tissues to which they are applied are nonlinear viscoelastic materials, which can undergo significant mechanical deformation in dynamic biological environments. Further, the same arrays and compositions are often repurposed for vastly different tissues rather than optimizing the materials and mechanical properties of the implant for the target application. By first characterizing the desired biological environment, and then designing a technology for a particular organ, surface electrode arrays may be more conformable, and offer better interfaces to tissues while causing less damage. Here, the various materials used in each component of a surface electrode array are first reviewed, and then electrically active implants in three specific biological systems, the nervous system, the muscular system, and skin, are described. Finally, the fabrication of next-generation surface arrays that overcome current limitations is discussed.