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Organic polymers would connect prosthesis to nerves

Posted: 15 May 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:organic polymer component? solar cell? light diode?

A Sweden-based PhD research student from Linkvping University is developing organic polymer components structured to allow severed nerves to grow right into them and connect with electrodes in a prosthetic hand, for example.

Tobias Nyberg has been collaborating with cell biologist and fellow Linkvping PhD student Helena Jerregerd. She has been developing ways to untangle nerves so they sort themselves out into nerve threads and tactile threads.

Nyberg's job has been to produce structures in which the sorted nerves can connect with the electrodes from a future prosthesis.

The materials Nyberg used are plastics etched with patterns of tiny channels 205m in size, covered by an electrically conductive polymer and a protein that the nerves can grow on.

Nyberg's research also reveals that these nano- and micrometer-sized organic polymer structures can be used in solar cells and light diodes. These applications require an efficient light-absorbing material which is as thin as possible. So Nyberg created light-refracting patterns less than a micrometer in size. These patterns prevent light from going straight through the material, bending it instead so that more light is absorbed.

He has also developed a method that makes microdomes of water. He uses a surface that is patterned in circles, where the circles are made of a water-friendly material whereas the surrounding surface is made of a water-repellent material.

When such a surface is exposed to cold temperatures, moisture in the air condenses on the water-friendly circles, building tiny bumps. Nyberg has applied for a patent for this process.

This pattern can be moulded out of a polymer material, and Nyberg believes it has possible applications in camera apertures, light diodes and solar cells.

? Joanne Aslett

EE Times

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