A recent Medgadget article discussed a new hydrogel scaffold that can function as a living electrode for brain-computer interface applications. A team of researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute created a porous and flexible scaffold by freeze-drying electrically conductive materials. The freeze drying process created ice-crystals in the material that leaves behind pores in which cells can enter and live.
Next, they loaded the scaffold with human neural progenitor cells and cultured them for long periods, which caused the cells to differentiate into various neurons and astrocytes. The resulting “living electrodes” are soft and flexible, making them ideal for conforming with soft neural tissues in a brain-computer interface application.