A groundbreaking discovery was made at the University of Delaware. A team of scientists has come up with a bio-synthetic material with which they claim to be a major step for interfacing AI with the human brain.
The presentation for the study was made today at the American Chemical Society's online expo (which takes place from 17 to 20 August). How long do we have until first cyborgs roll out, we wonder?
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Interfacing electronics with human tissue proved to be a major challenge as traditional materials such as silicon, steel, and gold lead to scar tissue formation in their implantation site.
While scar tissue is a problem in itself at certain times, it also poses an additional challenge due to reduced electrical conductivity of the affected area. So, computer to human electrical information transfer remains largely unviable with these materials. Researchers aim to overcome this issue by using various polymers.
The lead of the study Dr. David Martin said "We got the idea for this project because we were trying to interface rigid organic microelectrodes with the brain, but brains are made out of organic, salty, live materials,"
It did not go well at first so they thought they could come up with a better way to do this. Martin continues "We started looking at organic electronic materials like conjugated polymers that were being used in non-biological devices. We found a chemically stable example that was sold commercially as an antistatic coating for electronic displays"
The example mentioned here is a polymer known as PEDOT. It was discovered relatively recently and it was discovered to be capable of converting common house bricks into energy storage units.
PEDOT has many uses in biological contexts as well. Martin claims "Name your favorite biomolecule, and you can, in principle, make a PEDOT film that has whatever biofunctional group you might be interested in." There are PEDOT polymers used in brain and nervous system disorders. Variations on this polymer could be used to interact with antibodies, DNA, or peptides.
The researchers made one that interacts with dopamine, but we are yet to learn more. The team plans to come forward with more details later this month. A publication on PEDOTs from April 2020 could give some more insight to those curious though.