Building And Validating Next-Generation Neurodevices Using Novel Materials, Fabrication, And Analytic Strategies

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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neural interface
Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
Neuroscience and Neurobiology
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Driscoll, Nicolette

Technologies that enable scientists to record and modulate neural activity across spatial scales are advancing the way that neurological disorders are diagnosed and treated, and fueling breakthroughs in our fundamental understanding of brain function. Despite the rapid pace of technology development, significant challenges remain in realizing safe, stable, and functional interfaces between manmade electronics and soft biological tissues. Additionally, technologies that employ multimodal methods to interrogate brain function across temporal and spatial scales, from single cells to large networks, offer insights beyond what is possible with electrical monitoring alone. However, the tools and methodologies to enable these studies are still in their infancy. Recently, carbon nanomaterials have shown great promise to improve performance and multimodal capabilities of bioelectronic interfaces through their unique optical and electronic properties, flexibility, biocompatibility, and nanoscale topology. Unfortunately, their translation beyond the lab has lagged due to a lack of scalable assembly methods for incorporating such nanomaterials into functional devices. In this thesis, I leverage carbon nanomaterials to address several key limitations in the field of bioelectronic interfaces and establish scalable fabrication methods to enable their translation beyond the lab. First, I demonstrate the value of transparent, flexible electronics by analyzing simultaneous optical and electrical recordings of brain activity at the microscale using custom-fabricated graphene electronics. Second, I leverage a recently discovered 2D nanomaterial, Ti3C2 MXene, to improve the capabilities and performance of neural microelectronic devices. Third, I fabricate and validate human-scale Ti3C2 MXene epidermal electrode arrays in clinical applications. Leveraging the unique solution-processability of Ti3C2 MXene, I establish novel fabrication methods for both high-resolution microelectrode arrays and macroscale epidermal electrode arrays that are scalable and sufficiently cost-effective to allow translation of MXene bioelectronics beyond the lab and into clinical use. Thetechnologies and methodologies developed in this thesis advance bioelectronic technology for both research and clinical applications, with the goal of improving patient quality of life and illuminating complex brain dynamics across spatial scales.

Flavia Vitale
Brian Litt
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