One of the main problems of brain-computer interfaces is the electrodes that must be used to detect brain waves. Very often, these electrodes are very intrusive and must be used in areas without hair with particularly sticky gels.
The new electrodes, presented in a new study on ACS Nano Letters, solve some of these problems because they can also act on the hair. In addition, they are more flexible than normal electrodes and, as reported in the presented press release, can be used very well in brain-computer interfaces, e.g. for driving vehicles or moving artificial limbs. Of course, simple electroencephalograms can also be produced with these interfaces.
The problem with classical electrodes, as reported by the same press, lies in the gel that has to be used for the application: This special gel is difficult to wash and remove from the hair and can cause skin irritation in some people. The same hair can also interfere with electrical signals.
Researchers Ming Lei, Bo Hong and Hui Wu have developed a flexible, more robust electrode that does not require gel. They inserted silver nanowires into a melamine sponge and developed a device that can also be used for heads with hair.
In addition, the process to manufacture them is very cost effective (the same researchers estimate the one-off cost at 12 cents) and can also be built in series. They are also heat and sweat resistant and can withstand movement.
Background info and sources:
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