Highly-compliant, microcable neuroelectrodes fabricated from thin-film gold and PDMS.
Bio-electrodes have traditionally been made of materials such as metal and silicon that are much stiffer than the tissue from which they record or stimulate. This difference in mechanical compliance can cause incomplete or ineffective contact with the tissue. The electrode stiffness has also been hypothesized to cause chronic low-grade injury and scar-tissue encapsulation, reducing stimulation and recording efficiency. As an initial step to resolve these issues with electrode performance, we have developed and characterized electrically-functional, low-Young's modulus, microcable-shaped neuroelectrodes and demonstrated electrophysiological recording functionality. The microcable geometry gives the electrodes a similar footprint to traditional wire and microwire neuroelectrodes, while reducing the difference in Young's modulus from nervous tissue by orders of magnitude. The electrodes are composed of PDMS and thin-film gold, affording them a high-level of compliance that is well suited for in vivo applications. The composite Young's modulus of the electrode was experimentally determined to be 1.81 ± 0.01 MPa. By incorporating a high-tear-strength silicone, Sylgard 186, the load at failure was increased by 92%, relative to that of the commonly used Sylgard 184. The microcable electrodes were also electromechanically tested, with measurable conductivity (220 kΩ) at an average 8% strain (n = 2) after the application of 200% strain. Electrophysiological recording is demonstrated by wrapping the electrode around a peripheral nerve, utilizing the compliance and string-like profile of the electrode for effective recording in nerve tissue.
McClain, MA; Clements, IP; Shafer, RH; Bellamkonda, RV; LaPlaca, MC; Allen, MG
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