Many people, from science fiction writers and readers, to actual scientists and medical doctors, are interested in seeing electronics that are compatible with living organisms. One reason for the interest is to integrate prosthetics into a person’s nervous system, to enhance control. Researchers at Technische Universitaet Muenchen have recently published the results of an experiment with graphene.
Graphene is effectively a two-dimensional piece of carbon with extraordinary properties. Using vapor deposition and standard etching processes, the researchers were able to make 16 graphene solution-gate field-effect transistors on copper foil. The current through these transistors is affected by their environment, so signals between brain cells can be detected.
The experiment was only a proof of concept, so we cannot expect cyborgs on the street yet, but there is great promise in this technology. Already its performance is comparable to that of ultra-low noise silicon devices, which have the benefit of decades of development. The next steps will be to improve the noise performance further and to get this technology working on other substrates, such as those already used in implants.