Nano Platinum for Neurological Implants

Mercator Fellow Brian Giera at University of Duisburg-Essen

Nano Platinum for Neurological Implants


Normal movements without trembling or cramping - this is what brain pacemakers allow people with Parkinson's disease to do. High quality and long-term stability of the implanted electrodes are essential in order to minimize follow-up operations. To this end, researchers at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) want to coat the implants with metal nanoparticles and thus improve the contact between implant and tissue. Dr. Brian Giera from the Livermore National Laboratory (USA), currently a Mercator Fellow at the UDE, is also involved.

In the project "Coating neuroelectrodes with nanoparticles by electrophoretic deposition", which is funded by the German Research Foundation, scientists from Technical Chemistry I are collaborating with colleagues from Hannover Medical School.

Improving the implant

A great deal revolves around electrophoretic deposition (EPD): the tiny wires of the electrodes - less than 1 mm in diameter - are immersed in a liquid containing platinum nanoparticles. If an electric field is then applied, the particles settle very thinly on the surface of the electrodes and improve contact with the brain tissue: the electrical resistance of the implant decreases, the current reaches the nerve cells better, the battery lasts longer and thus fewer follow-up operations are necessary.

For people with restrictive movement disorders, deep brain stimulation improves their quality of life considerably. This is particularly true in serious cases where medication is no longer effective. In order to further improve the EPD and thus the quality of the coating, knowledge from various disciplines is now being brought together.

Dr. Brian Giera at the UDE again

The researchers are working with Dr. Brian Giera from the Californian Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who will be at the UDE for a second time for a month starting November 28. The 34-year-old is one of the world's leading experts in the field of computer-aided simulation of these processes.

Together, Giera and the UDE researchers want to understand the EPD in detail: For example, how does the arrangement of the particles on the electrode surface change if their initial concentration is changed? What influence does the strength of the applied electric field have? "If we know these relationships, we can control the process specifically," explains Dr. Christoph Rehbock, head of the Nano-Bio-Materials research group within Technical Chemistry. "We can then use the type of coating to adjust the resistance of the electrodes.

"I am delighted to be involved in such an interdisciplinary and international cooperation project in which experts from physics, chemistry and medicine work closely together," says Giera.


Further information:
Dr. Christoph Rehbock, Technical Chemistry I, University of Duisburg-Essen, Tel. 0201 18 3-3040, christoph.rehbock@uni-due.de 


Editor: Birte Vierjahn, Tel. 0203 37 9-8176, birte.vierjahn@uni-due.de