PITA FY2014 Projects

A New Electrode Test System for Retinal Prostheses and other Medical Implants

PI:Shawn Kelly, ICES,Electrical and Computer Engineering / Department of Veterans Affairs

University:Carnegie Mellon University


Industry Affiliate(s):UPMC Eye Center
Department of Veterans Affairs

Summary:We propose to develop and build an electronic system to test and characterize electrodes used in neural stimulation and recording, including electrodes used in a retinal prosthesis that will restore functional sight to the blind. The equipment currently available to test and characterize electrodes is currently very complex and expensive, typically costing $25,000 or more. We propose to leverage circuits that we have already designed for neural stimulation to create a test system costing between $1000 and $5000, opening the technology to a wider range of neural engineering research laboratories and medical device companies. We will use the standard technique of cyclic voltammetry (CV) to calculate charge capacities of electrodes, ramping the CV waveform at a number of frequencies to create a complete picture of the electrode’s properties. We will also extract electrical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) from the CV data using Fourier analysis, simplifying the hardware required and drastically reducing the cost of the system. Our team includes a CMU faculty member, a graduate student and two undergraduates, a small company that plans to build a design center in Pittsburgh, a major eye hospital, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. This team from academia, industry, and government will create the test and characterization system, potentially creating a spinoff company while reducing costs for small companies and academic and government research labs.