Researchers at Harvard and Beijing's National Center for Nanoscience and Technology have developed a technique to use a needle just a few millimeters long to inject mesh electronics directly into the brain. From there, the mesh can unfurl, providing a non-invasive way to deploy sensors and electronic brain-stimulating devices.
The invention, published in , could open up a new frontier in cybernetic electronics. Such injected electronics could be used in brain monitors for patients with epilepsy, brain-computer interfaces for smart prosthetics, spinal cord connective tissue repair, and in monitoring heart arrhythmia.
The most important immediate function, though, would be to perform brain biopsies. Rather than having to open the entire skull case (or a portion of it), a near-microscopic hole is drilled through the skull, then the needle is inserted to deploy the mesh electronics. So far, the treatment has only been tested on mice, but the researchers believe that, once approved on humans, it could be performed as an outpatient procedure—no hospitalization required.