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Front Neuroeng. 2013 Jul 12;6:3. doi: 10.3389/fneng.2013.00003. eCollection 2013.

Analysis of fractal electrodes for efficient neural stimulation.

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  • 1Department of Physical Sciences, Sunnybrook Research Institute Toronto, Canada ; Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto Toronto, Canada ; Laboratory of Electromagnetics and Acoustics, Electrical Engineering, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Lausanne, Switzerland.


Planar electrodes are increasingly used in therapeutic neural stimulation techniques such as functional electrical stimulation, epidural spinal cord stimulation (ESCS), and cortical stimulation. Recently, optimized electrode geometries have been shown to increase the efficiency of neural stimulation by increasing the variation of current density on the electrode surface. In the present work, a new family of modified fractal electrode geometries is developed to enhance the efficiency of neural stimulation. It is shown that a promising approach in increasing the neural activation function is to increase the "edginess" of the electrode surface, a concept that is explained and quantified by fractal mathematics. Rigorous finite element simulations were performed to compute electric potential produced by proposed modified fractal geometries. The activation of 256 model axons positioned around the electrodes was then quantified, showing that modified fractal geometries required a 22% less input power while maintaining the same level of neural activation. Preliminary in vivo experiments investigating muscle evoked potentials due to median nerve stimulation showed encouraging results, supporting the feasibility of increasing neural stimulation efficiency using modified fractal geometries.


cortical stimulation; deep brain stimulation (DBS); electrodes; epidural spinal cord stimulation; fractal geometry; neural stimulation

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