A highly durable electro-conductive polymer coating has been introduced by Biotectix, a developer of conductive coatings for medical devices that aim to optimize the communication between devices and physiologic systems. The new coating called Amplicoat incorporates Photolink a proprietary surface modification technology developed by SurModics Inc. Designed to enhance communication at the interface between human tissue and a medical device’s electrode Amplicoat overcomes the limitations of other conductive coatings including poor durability, difficult processing requirements and limited performance. The new coating can be easily applied to a variety of metal electrodes providing an optimal solution for numerous medical-device applications including neurostimulation cardiac pacing electrophysiology recordings cochlear implants and gastrointestinal recording and stimulation. “Amplicoat is a true breakthrough technology that provides a durable electrode coating that conducts both ionically and electronically resulting in lower impedance and an expanded range for safe charge delivery“ said Dr. Sarah Richardson-Burns who co-founded Biotectix with Jeff Hendricks PhD. Amplicoat enables device electrode miniaturization offering higher numbers of electrodes for a given-sized lead or device and providing greater tissue-sensing resolution as well as more localized stimulation control. The coating enables higher signal fidelity lower power requirements and reduced stimulation thresholds.
In another development, Melik Demirel, an engineering science and mechanics professor and his team at Pennsylvania State University have produced a thermoplastic that replicates squid ring teeth (SRT), a protein complex extracted from the squid tentacles’ suction cups. They’ve made “an eco-friendly material with remarkable mechanical properties,” Demirel says, one that “provides unique opportunities for a range of applications including drug delivery, materials coatings, tissue engineering, and wet-adhesives.” Their study was published in Advanced Functional Materials journal. Demirel turned to squid ring teeth, a structural protein (like hair or nails) similar to silk in its semi-crystalline structure, which could be shaped into any geometry using polymer processes that have been around for a century, as well as newer 3D printing methods. The squid-inspired thermoplastic has several advantages over traditional plastics, Demirel says. It’s lighter than carbon-based materials and its versatility allows it to be made into fibers and thin films. Because it’s a protein, it’s also biodegradable and tuneable. In other words, you can modify the properties of the gene at the start of the production process to adapt the material to different needs. Finally, the production process requires less energy and is more environmentally friendly than that of traditional plastics. Unlike the “high temperature refinery processing of plastics,” which are manufactured from fossil fuel sources like crude oil or from synthetic oils, the creation of the SRT thermoplastics can take place at room temperature. The researchers are also looking toward the adhesive market. Since they’re working with a protein-based material that evolved in a marine environment, it can resist water and stick to other surfaces even when wet, a huge advantage compared to other adhesive.