Breakthroughs in Brain-Computer Interfaces: INBRAIN leads the Path with Graphene-Based Transistors

Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are making incredible strides, thanks to the recent efforts of INBRAIN Neuroelectronics and the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) on the GphT-BCI project. Since December 1, 2023, this collaborative venture has been pushing the boundaries of BCI technology with innovative graphene-based transistors, setting the stage for a major shift in the field.

BCI technology has been gaining attention and was even named “Technology of the Year 2023” by Nature Electronics. Bloomberg forecasts that the BCI market will reach €5.25 billion by 2030, showcasing its significant commercial potential. However, current BCI technologies have their drawbacks, particularly due to the use of passive metal electrodes. These electrodes are invasive, offer limited resolution, and have a narrow bandwidth, which hampers their effectiveness.

The GphT-BCI project is developing a promising solution: graphene-based transistors. Graphene, known for its exceptional conductivity and flexibility, is perfect for creating high-resolution BCIs. Unlike traditional electrodes, graphene’s one-atom-thick structure can be integrated into ultra-soft, flexible substrates. This ensures excellent contact with brain tissue, making the technology far less invasive and much more effective. On top of decoding from thousands of contacts graphene can read biomarkers at frequencies metals can’t reach below 0.01Hz. These biomarkers are extremely relevant in diseases such as Epilepsy, Stroke and general brain health.

On July 1, 2024, the GphT-BCI team from INBRAIN and ICN2 gathered at INBRAIN’s headquarters to review their progress over the past seven months. A key highlight was the start of the fabrication in 6-inch wafers, which is crucial for scaling up the production of graphene transistors and another step towards 8-inches. This milestone is essential for meeting industry quality standards and is a big step toward mass production, making the technology commercially viable.

Additionally, the team has made significant advancements in developing the dedicated read-out electronics, which comply with human-use regulations. These electronics are designed to support frequency-domain multiplexing, enhancing the BCI system’s efficiency and functionality.

The GphT-BCI project is well on its way to transforming BCI technology. The progress made so far already published in NATURE in 2021 and these next steps indicate that this groundbreaking technology will soon move from research labs to clinical settings and to the market, offering a revolutionary new tool for medical professionals and patients alike.

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