Engineering Novel High-Resolution Bioelectronic Interfaces from MXene Nanomaterials

Brendan Boyce Murphy, University of Pennsylvania


At the interface between Man and Machine are electrode technologies. Using recording electrodes, it is possible to observe and monitor the activity of neurons or nervous tissue, affording us with an understanding of the basic dynamics underlying behavior and disease. By interacting with the nervous system through stimulating electrodes, it is possible to impact brain function, or evoke muscle activation and coordination, paving the way for treatments to severe neurological and neuromuscular disorders. However, despite the exciting promises of electrode technologies, current state-of-the-art platforms feature stiff and high-impedance materials, which are incompatible with soft biological tissue. Additionally, many current technologies suffer from shorter lifetimes than may be desirable for a truly chronic implant or wearable health monitoring device. Recently, there has been a shift in focus towards two-dimensional nanocarbons as alternative materials for superior electrode technologies. This comes as a result of the enhanced flexibility, biocompatibility, and electronic and electrochemical properties that most carbon-based nanomaterials exhibit. In particular, the 2D nanomaterial titanium carbide MXene (Ti3C2Tx) has very recently shown great promise for a variety of biomedical applications. However, the long-term stability of Ti3C2Tx has not been fully explored, and it is still unknown whether Ti3C2Tx can be used for chronic bioelectronic applications. Accordingly, in this thesis, I address and explore the key advantages of Ti3C2Tx for biopotential sensing, with a particular emphasis on validating this unique material for chronic recording studies. First, I demonstrate the superior advantages of Ti3C2Tx for direct recording of biopotential signals at the skin level in humans. Second, I define the long-term stability of Ti3C2Tx MXene in dried film form, and explore modifications in synthesis and film assembly to improve the material’s lifetime. Third, I fabricate and validate Ti3C2Tx-based epidermal sensors that exhibit comparable recording capabilities to state-of-the-art clinical electrodes, firmly establishing Ti3C2Tx electrode technologies for future, chronic experiments. The processing and fabrication methods developed herein translate into mature technologies with unique properties that are comparable to state-of-the-art designs, thereby offering a novel bioelectronic platform with the potential to benefit a variety of fields in both the research and clinical settings.

Subject Area

Materials science|Biomedical engineering|Nanotechnology|Bioengineering

Recommended Citation

Murphy, Brendan Boyce, "Engineering Novel High-Resolution Bioelectronic Interfaces from MXene Nanomaterials" (2021). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI28769686.