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Proceedings Paper

Electrically conductive polyurethanes for biomedical applications
Author(s): Charles M. Williams; M. A. Nash; Laura A. Poole-Warren
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Paper Abstract

Electrical interfacing with neural tissue poses significant problems due to host response to the material. This response generally leads to fibrous encapsulation and increased impedance across the electrode. In neural electrodes such as cochlear implants, an elastomeric material like silicone is used as an insulator for the metal electrode. This project ultimately aims to produce a polymer electrode with elastomeric mechanical properties, metal like conductivity and capability. The approach taken was to produce a nanocomposite elastomeric material based on polyurethane (PU) and carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes are ideal due to their high aspect ratio as well as being a ballistic conductor. The choice of PU is based on its elastomeric properties, processability and biocompatibility. Multi-walled nanotubes (MWNTs) were dispersed ultrasonically in various dispersive solutions before being added at up to 20wt% to a 5wt% PU (Pellethane80A) in Dimethylacetamide (DMAc). Films were then solvent cast in a vacuum oven overnight. The resulting films were tested for conductivity using a two-probe technique and mechanically tested using an Instron tensiometer. The percolation threshold (p) of the PU/MWNT films occurred at loadings of between 7 and 10 wt% in this polymer system. Conductivity of the films (above p) was comparable to those for similar systems reported in the literature at up to approximately 7x10-2 Scm-1. Although PU stiffness increased with increased %loading of nanotubes, all composites were highly flexible and maintained elastomeric properties. From these preliminary results we have demonstrated electrical conductivity. So far it is evident that a superior percolation threshold is dependent on the degree of dispersion of the nanotubes. This has prompted work into investigating other preparations of the films, including melt-processing and electrospinning.

Paper Details

Date Published: 16 February 2005
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 5651, Biomedical Applications of Micro- and Nanoengineering II, (16 February 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.585321
Show Author Affiliations
Charles M. Williams, Univ. of New South Wales (Australia)
M. A. Nash, Univ. of New South Wales (Australia)
Laura A. Poole-Warren, Univ. of New South Wales (Australia)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5651:
Biomedical Applications of Micro- and Nanoengineering II
Dan V. Nicolau, Editor(s)

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