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Low Impedance Carbon Adhesive Electrodes with Long Shelf Life.


A novel electrocardiogram (ECG) electrode film is developed by mixing carbon black powder and a quaternary salt with a visco-elastic polymeric adhesive. Unlike traditional wet gel-based electrodes, carbon/salt/adhesive (CSA) electrodes should theoretically have an infinite shelf life as they do not dehydrate even after a prolonged period of storage. The CSA electrodes are electrically activated for use through the process of electrophoresis. Specifically, the activation procedure involves sending a high voltage and current through the electrode, which results in significant reduction of impedance so that high fidelity ECG signals can be obtained. Using the activation procedure, the ideal concentration of carbon black powder in the mixture with the adhesive was examined. It was determined that the optimum concentration of carbon black which minimized post-activation impedance was 10%. Once the optimal carbon black powder concentration was determined, extensive signal analysis was performed to compare the performance of the CSA electrodes to the standard silver-silver chloride (Ag/AgCl) electrodes. As a part of data analysis, electrode-skin contact impedance of the CSA was measured and compared to the standard Ag/AgCl electrodes; we found consistently lower impedance for CSA electrodes. For quantitative data analysis, we simultaneously collected ECG data with CSA and Ag/AgCl electrodes from 17 healthy subjects. Heart rate variability (HRV) indices and ECG morphological waveforms were calculated to compare CSA and Ag/AgCl electrodes. Non-significant differences for most of the HRV indices between CSA and Ag/AgCl electrodes were found. Of the morphological waveform metrics consisting of R-wave peak amplitude, ST-segment elevation and QT interval, only the first index was found to be significantly different between the two media. The response of CSA electrodes to motion artifacts was also tested, and we found in general no difference in the quality of the ECG signal between the two media. Hence, given that CSA electrodes are expected to have a very long shelf-life, with potentially less cost associated with their fabrication, and have ECG signal dynamics nearly identical to those of Ag/AgCl, the new electrodes provide an attractive alternative for ECG measurements.