A new implantable device, which uses silicon technology to measure the heart’s electrical output, has been developed and tested by a group of US cardiologists, materials scientists and bioengineers.

The device brings electronic circuits right to the tissue inside a sealed can that is placed elsewhere in the body, enabling it to process signals at the tissues, allowing them to have a much higher number of electrodes for sensing or stimulation than is currently possible in medical devices.

The team tested the new devices, made of nanoscale, flexible ribbons of silicon embedded with 288 electrodes, forming a lattice-like array of hundreds of connections, on the heart of a porcine animal model to map electrical activity on the heart.

The device’s design is initially planned to be applied for localising and treating abnormal heart rhythms, and later on to treat brain diseases like epilepsy and movement disorders.

The device’s features include a tissue-hugging shape, ability to operate when immersed in the body’s salty fluids, as well as the ability to collect large amounts of data from the body, at high speed.

The research is a result of a collaboration between the Rogers laboratory and Litt’s bioengineering laboratory at Pennsylvania.