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New polymer coating could help brains merge with machines — cyborgs incoming?

The material could help connect electrical components to human tissue

Scientists have developed a new bio-synthetic coating for electronic components that could help merge AI with the human brain.

They believe the polymer could overcome a fundamental challenge around connecting electronics to humans.

Traditional microelectronic materials, such as gold, silicon, and steel, cause scarring when implanted that disrupts the flow of electrical signals transmitted between computers and the body. But the new polymer could solve this problem, by providing a coating for components that connect to human tissue.

“We started looking at organic electronic materials like conjugated polymers that were being used in non-biological devices,” said study leader David Martin, a professor of materials science at the University of Delaware.

“We found a chemically stable example that was sold commercially as an antistatic coating for electronic displays.”

[Read: Researchers use neuromorphic chips and electronic ‘skin’ to give robots a sense of touch]

Tests showed the polymer — known as PEDOT — could interface electronic hardware with organic tissue without causing scarring.

It also dramatically improved the performance of medical implants by reducing their opposition to an electric current, which helps increase the signal quality and battery lifetime of the components.

The researchers believe inserting the materials into a human’s tissue could help connect their brain to a computer. As much as I’d like to become a cyborg, I don’t think I’ll be volunteering for the trials.

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Published August 18, 2020 — 14:13 UTC