A Pedot film is likely to help link human brain with artificial intelligence without any scarring or tissue damage
Scientists have discovered a ground-breaking bio-synthetic material that they claim can be used to merge artificial intelligence with the human brain.
The polymer, known as a Pedot, has exactly the properties needed to interface electronic hardware with human tissue without causing scarring while also dramatically improving the performance of medical implants, reports the Independent.
The breakthrough, presented on Wednesday at the American Chemical Society Fall 2020 virtual expo, is a major step towards integrating electronics with the body to create part human, part robotic "cyborg" beings.
As traditional materials like gold, silicon and steel cause scarring when implanted connecting electronics to human tissue becomes challenging.
Scars not only cause damage but also interrupt electrical signals flowing between computers and muscle or brain tissue. The researchers from the University of Delaware were able to overcome this using various types of polymers.
"We got the idea for this project because we were trying to interface rigid organic microelectrodes with the brain, but brains are made out of organic, salty, live materials," said Dr David Martin, who led the study.
"It wasn't working well, so we thought there must be a better way. We started looking at organic electronic materials like conjugated polymers that were being used in non-biological devices. We found a chemically stable example that was sold commercially as an antistatic coating for electronic displays."
The latest research used a Pedot film with an antibody that stimulates blood vessel growth after injury and could be used to detect early stages of tumour growth in the body.
Pedot polymers could also be used to help sense or treat brain or nervous system disorders, while versions could theoretically attach peptides, antibodies and DNA.
"Name your favourite biomolecule, and you can in principle make a Pedot film that has whatever biofunctional group you might be interested in," Dr Martin said.
The researchers made a polymer with dopamine, which plays a role in addictive behaviours.
Several companies and research institutions are already working on technology to connect brains to computers, with Elon Musk's Neuralink perhaps the closest to achieving a commercial product.
The startup plans to reveal more details about its brain chips later this month, which could one day provide "full-bandwidth data streaming" to the brain through a USB-C cable.