Finite element analysis of a floating microstimulator

Mesut Sahin, Syed S. Ur-Rahman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Analytical solutions for voltage fields in a volume conductor are available only for ideal electrodes with radially symmetric contacts and infinitely extending substrates. Practical electrodes for neural stimulation may have asymmetric contacts and finite substrate dimensions and hence deviate from the ideal geometries. For instance, it needs to be determined if the analytical solutions are adequate for simulations of narrow shank electrodes where the substrate width is comparable to the size of the contacts. As an extension to this problem, a "floating" stimulator can be envisioned where the substrate would be finite in all directions. The question then becomes how small this floating stimulator can be made before its stimulation strength is compromised by the decrease in the medium impedance between the contacts as the contacts are approaching each other. We used finite element modeling to solve the voltage and current profiles generated by these radially asymmetric electrode geometries in a volume conductor. The simulation results suggest that both the substrate size and the bipolar contact separation influence the voltage field when these parameters are as small as a few times the contact size. Both of these effects are larger for increasing elevations from the contact surface, and even stronger for floating electrodes (finite substrate in all directions) than the shank-type electrodes. Location of the contacts on the floating electrode also plays a role in determining the voltage field. The voltage field for any device size and current, and any specific resistance of the volume conductor can be predicted from these results so long as the aspect ratios are preserved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-234
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Internal Medicine
  • General Neuroscience
  • Biomedical Engineering


  • Microelectrodes
  • Neural stimulation
  • Volume conductors


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