Functional validation of a novel technique for assembling high density polyimide cochlear implants
Sharpe, Alton Russell
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It has been hypothesized that increasing the number of active sites on a cochlear implant electrode array will enable the recipient to distinguish a higher number of pitch precepts, thus creating a more natural sound. While DSP processing strategies for cochlear implants have evolved significantly to address this, technology for the actual electrode array has remained relatively constant and limits the number of physical electrodes possible. Previous work introduced the concept of using Thin-Film Array (TFA) technology to allow for much higher site densities, although the original devices proved unreliable during surgical insertion tests. This work presents a new method of combining polyimide-based TFA's with supporting silicone insertion platforms to create assembled electrode arrays that are a more viable option for surgical insertion. The electrical and mechanical properties of these assemblies are investigated with physical deformation tests and finite element analysis in COMSOL to quantify how they will perform upon insertion into the cochlea, and the preliminary results of a surgical insertion study into human cadaveric temporal bones will be discussed.