Study of the Carrier-Aided Thin Film Electrode Array Design for Cochlear Insertion.
The micro-fabricated thin film electrode array (TFEA) has been a promising design for cochlear implants (CIs) because of its cost-effectiveness and fabrication precision. The latest polymer-based cochlear TFEAs have faced difficulties for cochlear insertion due to the lack of structural stiffness. To stiffen the TFEA, dissolvable stiffening materials, TFEAs with different structures, and TFEAs with commercial CIs as carriers have been invested. In this work, the concept of enhancing a Parylene TFEA with Kapton tape as a simpler carrier for cochlear insertion has been proved to be feasible. The bending stiffness of the Kapton-aided TFEA was characterized with an analytical model, a finite element model, and a cantilever bending experiment, respectively. While the Kapton tape increased the bending stiffness of the Parylene TFEA by 10³ times, the 6-μm-thick TFEA with a similar Young's modulus, as a polyimide, in turn significantly increased the bending stiffness of the 170-μm-thick Kapton carrier by 60%. This result indicated that even the TFEA is ultra-flexible and that its bending stiffness should not be neglected in the design or selection of its carrier.