High-Density, Soft Bioelectronic Fibers for Minimally Invasive Sensing and Stimulation

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Overview: Bioelectronic fibers close to the size of a human hair may soon enable healthcare professionals to read signals and stimulate target regions within the human body in a minimally invasive manner.

Introduction: Bioelectronic fibers are poised to become the future platform for deep implantation into tissues and body channels, due to their exceptional structural and mechanical properties, as well as their diverse functionalities, including sensing and modulation. Despite their potential, electronic fiber manufacturing remains challenging due to their incompatibility with traditional microfabrication methods designed for planar substrates, resulting in fibers with limited functionality and low-density of sensing/stimulation channels. Overcoming these challenges could revolutionize a wide range of medical and technological fields, from advanced healthcare diagnostics and treatments to innovative wearable technology and smart textiles.

Innovation: We have developed a novel approach to create high-density, soft electronic fibers by fabricating functional components on a 2D soft substrate, such as styrene ethylene butylene styrene copolymer, and then rolling it into a fiber (Fig. 1 & Video). This approach allows precise control over device position, orientation, and size, resulting in fibers with diameters ranging from the size of a human hair to a few millimeters, and up to 1280 channels on a 230-micron-diameter fiber. This method is reliable, adaptable, and suitable for large-scale manufacturing, as demonstrated by our successful prototypes.

Applications: Our mechanically compliant fibers can seamlessly interface with various soft tissues, actively moving organs, and small tortuous channels without compromising the electronic functions or impeding the natural physiological motion of the tissue. We showed simultaneous detection of gastrointestinal motility signals and tissue stimulation in pig intestine and even in a mouse colon with a diameter as small as ~ 2 mm. We further demonstrated a soft 32-channel brain probe for high-density single-neuron recording and a fabrication capability for 1280 channels on a 230-micron-diameter soft fiber.

Market potential: Our versatile approach will enable the recreation of existing 1D electronic medical leads/probes and introduction of newer versions with much advanced properties including higher densities, smaller sizes, softness, and additional functions. We will also be able to integrate electronic functionality into passive 1D medical devices like sutures, guidewires, catheters and even needles. Our approach will be fully automatic, replacing the manual assembly processes that are used today to create medical electronic leads and probes. This addresses key market needs such as cost efficiency, customization, and high performance required for the manufacturing of the next generation medical leads and probes. The unique advantages we offer will help us compete in multiple markets (>$10bn in total) including peripheral nerve stimulation, spinal cord stimulation devices, gastrointestinal manometry, cardiac pacemakers, cochlear implants, brain-machine interfaces, catheters and more.



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  • Name:
    Muhammad Khatib
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    • Muhammad Khatib
    • Zhenan Bao
  • Patent status: