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Soft, Comfortable Polymer Dry Electrodes for high Quality ECG and EEG Recording
* 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 5 , 4 , 4 , 1
1  imec/ KULeuven
2  imec
3  Datwyler Sealing Solutions
4  UGent
5  Holst Centre/ imec-nl

Abstract: Today conventional gel electrodes are widely used for biopotential measurements (EEG, ECG,..) despite their important drawbacks, such as signal degradation due to gel drying, skin irritation and the time-consuming set-up. Dry electrodes overcome most of these problems, however, the rigidity of the existing metal and Ag/AgCl dry electrodes causes discomfort and pain. In this paper, flexible polymer-based dry electrodes with high user comfort are presented. They are fabricated from EPDM rubber with various additives for optimization of conductivity, flexibility and fabrication yield. The impedance of these electrodes is measured for various signal frequencies on phantoms to test reproducibility, and on human skin to evaluate the electrode-skin impedance variation between subjects. All the subjects reported that our polymer electrodes were not causing discomfort. The polymer electrodes with optimum composition show ~10 times larger normalized impedance than gel electrodes. Tests showed that skin-electrode impedance reduced significantly by skin hydration, but this effect is only temporally. The 10-fold higher impedance of our polymer electrodes allows for an easy recording of strong biopotential signals such as ECG. For weaker signals, like EEG, the electrodes need to be coupled with an active circuit to compensate for their higher impedance. EEG recordings using active dry electrodes combined with a clinical EEG recording system are promising: visual interpretation of the signals revealed clear alpha-waves when subjects close their eyes, and correlation and coherence analyses reveal high similarity between dry and gel electrode signals. Based on the obtained results, the polymer-based dry electrodes are promising alternatives for the rigid dry electrodes in development and the conventional gel electrodes.
Keywords: material optimization, impedance measurement, high quality biopotential recordings, high user comfort