Non-invasive on-skin sensors for brain machine interfaces with epitaxial graphene

J Neural Eng. 2021 Dec 23;18(6). doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/ac4085.


Objective. Brain-machine interfaces are key components for the development of hands-free, brain-controlled devices. Electroencephalogram (EEG) electrodes are particularly attractive for harvesting the neural signals in a non-invasive fashion.Approach.Here, we explore the use of epitaxial graphene (EG) grown on silicon carbide on silicon for detecting the EEG signals with high sensitivity.Main results and significance.This dry and non-invasive approach exhibits a markedly improved skin contact impedance when benchmarked to commercial dry electrodes, as well as superior robustness, allowing prolonged and repeated use also in a highly saline environment. In addition, we report the newly observed phenomenon of surface conditioning of the EG electrodes. The prolonged contact of the EG with the skin electrolytes functionalize the grain boundaries of the graphene, leading to the formation of a thin surface film of water through physisorption and consequently reducing its contact impedance more than three-fold. This effect is primed in highly saline environments, and could be also further tailored as pre-conditioning to enhance the performance and reliability of the EG sensors.

Keywords: brain–machine interfaces (BMIs); electroencephalogram (EEG); epitaxial graphene (EG); silicon carbide (SiC).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain-Computer Interfaces*
  • Electrodes
  • Electroencephalography
  • Graphite*
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Graphite