Abstract

Objective. Electrical stimulation of biological tissue is an established technique in research and clinical practice that uses implanted electrodes to deliver electrical pulses for a variety of therapies. Significant research currently explores new electrode system technologies and stimulation protocols in preclinical models, aiming at both improving the electrode performance and confirming therapeutic efficacy. Assessing the scalability of newly proposed electrode technology and their use for tissue stimulation remains, however, an open question. Approach. We propose a simplified electrical model that formalizes the dimensional scaling of stimulation electrode systems. We use established equations describing the electrode impedance, and apply them to the case of stimulation electrodes driven by a voltage-capped pulse generator. Main results. We find a hard, intrinsic upward scalability limit to the electrode radius that largely depends on the conductor technology. We finally provide a simple analytical formula predicting the maximum size of a stimulation electrode as a function of the stimulation parameters and conductor resistance. Significance. Our results highlight the importance of careful geometrical and electrical designs of electrode systems based on novel thin-film technologies and that become particularly relevant for their translational implementation with electrode geometries approaching clinical human size electrodes and interfacing with voltage-capped neurostimulation systems.

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