Implantable silicone microchannel array for bi-directional prosthesis control

May 2013-December 2014

Advisors: Professor Hugh Herr, MIT Media Lab; Dr. Bryan McLaughlin, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory

In the quickly-advancing world of prosthetics, bi-directional control with truly native sensory feedback is still yet to be achieved. The goal of this project was to create a microchannel array implant, to be placed in-line with a peripheral nerve during amputation surgery, that would both selectively record motor neuron activity (to be transmitted to the prosthetic limb) and selectively stimulate sensory neurons (given data from the prosthetic limb sensors) to provide completely natural feedback to the human. As the first graduate student on this project, I designed and fabricated a stacked PDMS (silicone) microchannel array with platinum electrodes. The optimal geometries to simultaneously achieve both selective nerve recording/stimulation and high signal fidelity were pushing the upper size limit of conventional microfabrication processes but also pushing the lower size limit of “macro”-scale machine shop processes; to overcome this challenge, I developed a process flow that mixed work in the cleanroom, machine shop, and bio labs, ultimately creating prototypes that could be implanted into rats for evaluation.

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