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Assessment of Carbon/Salt/Adhesive Electrodes for Surface Electromyography Measurements.


This paper presents the evaluation of novel electrodes for surface electromyography (sEMG) measurements. The electrodes are based on the mixture of carbon powder, quaternary salt, and viscoelastic polymeric adhesive (carbon/salt/adhesive or simply CSA), which when combined, provide the unique advantages of having longer (theoretically infinite) shelf life and potentially lower cost than Ag/AgCl hydrogel electrodes, consistent with FLEXcon's Patent #8 673 184. The 20 subjects were recruited to collect simultaneous recordings of sEMG signals using Ag/AgCl and CSA electrodes, side-by-side on triceps brachii, tibial anterior muscles, biceps brachii, and quadriceps femoris. Although CSA sEMG electrodes showed higher electrode-skin contact impedance for the frequency range of 4 Hz-2 kHz, no significant differences were found in the signals' amplitude between the two electrodes either during relaxation or contraction stages. Furthermore, correlations of the computed linear envelopes (>0.91), rms value envelopes (>0.91), and power spectral densities (>0.95) of the signals were found to be high between the two media. Detected ON- and OFF-times of contraction were also highly correlated (>0.9) and interchangeable (ON-time: bias = -0.02, variance = 0.11; OFF-time: bias = -0.04, variance = 0.23) between the two media. However, CSA sEMG electrodes exhibited a significantly better response to noise (38.3 ± 10.6 dB versus 32.7 ± 15.6 dB) and motion artifacts (24.1 ± 12.1 dB versus 16.6 ± 8.52 dB), and a significantly lower spectral deformation (1.32 ± 0.2 versus 1.46 ± 0.4). Ag/AgCl electrodes showed a significantly more peaked and sensitive response to EMG amplitude (67.9 ± 13.9 dB versus 65.4 ± 14.6 dB). Given no significant differences in many of the measures described earlier and the fact that CSA electrodes have an infinite shelf-life are potentially lower cost, and are more resistant to motion artifacts, the new electrodes provide an attractive alternative to Ag/AgCl electrodes for sEMG measurements.