Year

2018

Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (Biofabrication)

Department

School of Chemistry

Abstract

The cochlear implant (CI) is the only successful tool for management of sensorineural hearing loss. Implanted within the patient’s inner ear, it adopts the cochlea’s seashell shape and electrically stimulates the auditory nerve at different points, allowing auditory perception to occur. 3D printing the CI electrode array would allow to customize it to the patient inner ear anatomy and increase the complexity of the stimulation provided due to the high spatial control offered by the 3D printing techniques, which would solve some of the issues associated with the electrode such as a poor nerve-electrode interface or reduced number of stimulation channels. In order to develop 3D printed flexible electrodes that could be used for the CI, two approaches were explored: inkjet printing a Pt-precursor ink (10% H2PtCl6) on a polydopamine-coated PDMS substrate followed by reduction to Pt; and 3D printing of conductive rLCGO/PDMS coaxial fibres. The resulting printed Pt-patterns did not showed the expected conductivity and more characterization and optimization is required to address the issue. On the other hand, coaxial printing rLCGO/PDMS fibres allowed creating a prototype construct that was both flexible and electrically conductive. More optimization of the printing process must be done before these techniques can be implemented for the CI electrode fabrication.

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