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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M026884/1
Title: Piezoelectric Nano-Fibre Based Acoustic Sensors for Artificial Cochlea
Principal Investigator: Song, Professor W
Other Investigators:
Liu, Dr X Maltby, Mr T Saeed, Professor S
Gale, Professor JE Vilches, Dr A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Surgery
Organisation: UCL
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 September 2015 Ends: 31 May 2019 Value (£): 870,392
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Med.Instrument.Device& Equip.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
10 Mar 2015 Hearing Aid Technologies Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Hearing impairment is one of the most common and most influential disabilities worldwide, affecting more than 300 million people. Sensory neural hearing loss (SNHL) occurs when there is irreversible damage to the sensory hair cells and/or the neural cells that connect to them. Most cases of SNHL cannot be surgically nor medically corrected. Many patients have such severe hearing loss that they do not benefit from hearing aids that just amply incoming acoustic signal and thus need a cochlear implant to restore their hearing. Cochlear implants provide the ability to hear spoken language for profoundly deaf children and adults for the first time, resulting in improved speech, language, educational and social outcomes. However the quality of the sound transmitted through current implants is still far beyond the ideal treatment for the entire spectrum that human cochlea can hear.

The proposed project takes a multidisciplinary approach to design and develop a piezo-nanofibre based frequency analyser and transducer device which can potentially be integrated and implanted inside the cochlea, directly exciting the neurons of the auditory nerve. The research programme will develop and integrate a range of scientific and engineering strategies including: (1) Production of high performance piezoelectric nanofibre based on polymer nanocomposites; (2) Development of position-controlled electrospinning technique for fabrication nanofibres with desired alignment and position; (3) Design, fabrication and integration of piezo-nanofibre based multi-channel acoustic devices and actuators; (4) Development of carbon nanocomposite electrodes and understanding of interface between nerve cell derived neurons and electrodes of the devices in vitro.

We will develop the technology and methodology for manufacturing piezo-nanofibres based acoustic devices with a wide range of frequency selectivity and integrated with bio-regenerative nanostructured electrode. The full capacity of the devices will be explored and evaluated in vitro. The fundamental understanding of piezoelectric property of nanocomposite fibres, interface between the nanostructured electrodes and neuron cell/existing neurons of the auditory nerve will be established. Our on-going collaborative team brings best match expertise, resources and facilities to establish a clear pathway to the future generation of piezo-nano-artificial cochlea, that will not only improve quality of life, but also help reduce healthcare expenditure.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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