3D Printing Designing Models Technology

Researchers develop 3D printed interfaces for enhanced signaling in neurological devices

A team of Chinese and Taiwanese researchers from such institutes as Zhejiang University (ZJU), Taipei Medical University, and National Central University (NCU) have used Aerosol Jet Printing (AJP) to develop 3D nanostructural coatings that enhance signaling in 3D printed neurological devices.

The research paper, published in Advanced Materials explains, “Over the past two decades, prosthetic devices have been successfully applied to treat neurodegenerative disease. However, the long-term utilization is limited by adverse biological reactions in host tissues, resulting in signal failure of the implanted devices.”

“It is more important to design biocompatible coatings for the implanted devices to mimic mechanical and structural properties of brain tissues in order to reduce inevitable tissue responses for long-term utilization.”

Using aerosol jet printing, nanogel suspensions were directly patterned on a neural probe to create an anti-inflammatory neural interface. Image via ZJU/NCU.
Using aerosol jet printing, nanogel suspensions were directly patterned on a neural probe to create an anti-inflammatory neural interface. Image via ZJU/NCU.

Aerosol Jet Printing and neural implants

The AJP process involves spraying metal-based inks onto existing 2D and 3D substrates, creating emulating a multi-layer circuit board interconnections. This method also eliminates the need for complex wire bonding conducted within LED chip fabrication.

Due to its low-temperature technology and contactless nature, the team used AJP to directly fabricate nanogels onto a membrane of the microscaled patterned polyimide-based neural probe. The nanogels were created by the researchers using a “new type of anti-inflammatory nanogel,” based on the amphiphilic polydimethylsiloxane-modified N, O-carboxylic chitosan (PMSC) incorporated with oligo-proanthocyanidin (OPC), called OPMSC.

a) Optical microscopy (OM) image showing the patterning morphology OPMSC arrays with a thickness of ≈30 µm obtained by AJP. b) PMSC and c) OPMSC arrays demonstrates that OPMSC can maintain structural stability in the biological microenvironment. Image via ZJU/NCU.
a) Optical microscopy (OM) image showing the patterning morphology OPMSC arrays with a thickness of ≈30 µm obtained by AJP. b) PMSC and c) OPMSC arrays demonstrates that OPMSC can maintain structural stability in the biological microenvironment. Image via ZJU/NCU.

The OPMSC nanogels were constructed to mimic the structural and mechanical properties of brain tissue and sustain non-fouling (a surface’s ability to shed potential contamination) for tissue encapsulation.

“With the integration of nanomanufacturing technology and multifunctional nanomaterials into the neural implants, we can extensively reduce the reactive tissue responses, provide continuous protection of surviving neurons, and ensure long-term performance reliability of implants,” the researchers explained.

The research paper, titled “Multifunctional 3D Patternable Drug-Embedded Nanocarrier-Based Interfaces to Enhance Signal Recording and Reduce Neuron Degeneration in Neural Implantation,” is co-authored Wei-Chen Huang, Hsin-Yi Lai, Li-Wei Kuo, Chia-Hsin Liao, Po-Hsieh Chang, Ta-Chung Liu, San-Yuan Chen, and You-Yin Chen.

d) An overview and SEM images of the flexible OPMSC-coated polyimide (PI) probe (length = 1.48 cm). e) SEM image showing a cross-sectional view of OPMSC-coated probe after washing with water. Image via ZJU/NCU.
d) An overview and SEM images of the flexible OPMSC-coated polyimide (PI) probe (length = 1.48 cm). e) SEM image showing a cross-sectional view of OPMSC-coated probe after washing with water. Image via ZJU/NCU.

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Featured image shows the aerosol jet printing process where nanogel suspensions are directly patterned on a neural probe to create an anti-inflammatory neural interface. Image via ZJU/NCU.

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