ABSTRACT: Brain function can be best studied by simultaneous measurements and modulation of the multifaceted signaling at the cellular scale. Extensive efforts have been made to develop multifunctional neural probes, typically involving highly specialized fabrication processes. Here, we report a novel multifunctional neural probe platform realized by applying ultrathin nanoelectronic coating (NEC) on the surfaces of conventional microscale devices such as optical fibers and micropipettes. We fabricated the NECs by planar photolithography techniques using a substrate-less and multilayer design, which host arrays of individually addressed electrodes with an overall thickness below 1 ?m. Guided by an analytic model and taking advantage of the surface tension, we precisely aligned and coated the NEC devices on the surfaces of these conventional microprobes and enabled electrical recording capabilities on par with the state-of-the-art neural electrodes. We further demonstrated optogenetic stimulation and controlled drug infusion with simultaneous, spatially resolved neural recording in a rodent model. This study provides a low-cost, versatile approach to construct multifunctional neural probes that can be applied to both fundamental and translational neuroscience.
Project description:Implanted brain electrodes construct the only means to electrically interface with individual neurons in vivo, but their recording efficacy and biocompatibility pose limitations on scientific and clinical applications. We showed that nanoelectronic thread (NET) electrodes with subcellular dimensions, ultraflexibility, and cellular surgical footprints form reliable, glial scar-free neural integration. We demonstrated that NET electrodes reliably detected and tracked individual units for months; their impedance, noise level, single-unit recording yield, and the signal amplitude remained stable during long-term implantation. In vivo two-photon imaging and postmortem histological analysis revealed seamless, subcellular integration of NET probes with the local cellular and vasculature networks, featuring fully recovered capillaries with an intact blood-brain barrier and complete absence of chronic neuronal degradation and glial scar.
Project description:Optogenetic interrogation of neural pathways relies on delivery of light-sensitive opsins into tissue and subsequent optical illumination and electrical recording from the regions of interest. Despite the recent development of multifunctional neural probes, integration of these modalities in a single biocompatible platform remains a challenge. We developed a device composed of an optical waveguide, six electrodes and two microfluidic channels produced via fiber drawing. Our probes facilitated injections of viral vectors carrying opsin genes while providing collocated neural recording and optical stimulation. The miniature (<200 ?m) footprint and modest weight (<0.5 g) of these probes allowed for multiple implantations into the mouse brain, which enabled opto-electrophysiological investigation of projections from the basolateral amygdala to the medial prefrontal cortex and ventral hippocampus during behavioral experiments. Fabricated solely from polymers and polymer composites, these flexible probes minimized tissue response to achieve chronic multimodal interrogation of brain circuits with high fidelity.
Project description:A long term functional and reliable coupling between neural tissue and implanted microelectrodes is the key issue in acquiring neural electrophysiological signals or therapeutically excite neural tissue. The currently often used rigid micro-electrodes are thought to cause a severe foreign body reaction resulting in a thick glial scar and consequently a poor tissue-electrode coupling in the chronic phase. We hypothesize, that this adverse effect might be remedied by probes compliant to the soft brain tissue, i.e., replacing rigid electrodes by flexible ones. Unfortunately, this flexibility comes at the price of a low stiffness, which makes targeted low trauma implantation very challenging. In this study, we demonstrate an adaptable and simple method to implant extremely flexible microprobes even to deep areas of rat's brain. Implantation of flexible probes is achieved by rod supported stereotactic insertion fostered by a hydrogel (2% agarose in PBS) cushion on the exposed skull. We were thus able to implant very flexible micro-probes in 70 rats as deep as the rodent's subthalamic nucleus. This work describes in detail the procedures and steps needed for minimal invasive, but reliable implantation of flexible probes.
Project description:Flexible neural probes have been pursued previously to minimize the mechanical mismatch between soft neural tissues and implants and thereby improve long-term performance. However, difficulties with insertion of such probes deep into the brain severely restricts their utility. We describe a solution to this problem using gallium (Ga) in probe construction, taking advantage of the solid-to-liquid phase change of the metal at body temperature and probe shape deformation to provide temperature-dependent control of stiffness over 5 orders of magnitude. Probes in the stiff state were successfully inserted 2?cm-deep into agarose gel "brain phantoms" and into rat brains under cooled conditions where, upon Ga melting, they became ultra soft, flexible, and stretchable in all directions. The current 30??m-thick probes incorporated multilayer, deformable microfluidic channels for chemical agent delivery, electrical interconnects through Ga wires, and high-performance electrochemical glutamate sensing. These PDMS-based microprobes of ultra-large tunable stiffness (ULTS) should serve as an attractive platform for multifunctional chronic neural implants.
Project description:Nanostructured neural interface coatings have significantly enhanced recording fidelity in both implantable and in vitro devices. As such, nano-porous gold (np-Au) has shown promise as a multifunctional neural interface coating due, in part, to its ability to promote nanostructure-mediated reduction in astrocytic surface coverage while not affecting neuronal coverage. The goal of this study is to provide insight into the mechanisms by which the np-Au nanostructure drives the differential response of neurons versus astrocytes in an in vitro model. Utilizing microfabricated libraries that display varying feature sizes of np-Au, it is demonstrated that np-Au influ-ences neural cell coverage through modulating focal adhesion formation in a feature size-dependent manner. The results here show that surfaces with small (?30 nm) features control astrocyte spreading through inhibition of focal adhesion formation, while surfaces with large (?170 nm and greater) features control astrocyte spreading through other mechanotransduction mechanisms. This cellular response combined with lower electrical impedance of np-Au electrodes significantly enhances the fidelity and stability of electrophysiological recordings from cortical neuronglia co-cultures relative to smooth gold electrodes. Finally, by leveraging the effect of nanostructure on neuronal versus glial cell attachment, the use of laser-based nanostructure modulation is demonstrated for selectively patterning neurons with micrometer spatial resolution.
Project description:Developments in microfabrication technology have enabled the production of neural electrode arrays with hundreds of closely spaced recording sites, and electrodes with thousands of sites are under development. These probes in principle allow the simultaneous recording of very large numbers of neurons. However, use of this technology requires the development of techniques for decoding the spike times of the recorded neurons from the raw data captured from the probes. Here we present a set of tools to solve this problem, implemented in a suite of practical, user-friendly, open-source software. We validate these methods on data from the cortex, hippocampus and thalamus of rat, mouse, macaque and marmoset, demonstrating error rates as low as 5%.
Project description:We present a new class of carbon-based neural probes that consist of homogeneous glassy carbon (GC) microelectrodes, interconnects and bump pads. These electrodes have purely capacitive behavior with exceptionally high charge storage capacity (CSC) and are capable of sustaining more than 3.5 billion cycles of bi-phasic pulses at charge density of 0.25?mC/cm2. These probes enable both high SNR (>16) electrical signal recording and remarkably high-resolution real-time neurotransmitter detection, on the same platform. Leveraging a new 2-step, double-sided pattern transfer method for GC structures, these probes allow extended long-term electrical stimulation with no electrode material corrosion. Cross-section characterization through FIB and SEM imaging demonstrate strong attachment enabled by hydroxyl and carbonyl covalent bonds between GC microstructures and top insulating and bottom substrate layers. Extensive in-vivo and in-vitro tests confirmed: (i) high SNR (>16) recordings, (ii) highest reported CSC for non-coated neural probe (61.4?±?6.9?mC/cm2), (iii) high-resolution dopamine detection (10?nM level - one of the lowest reported so far), (iv) recording of both electrical and electrochemical signals, and (v) no failure after 3.5 billion cycles of pulses. Therefore, these probes offer a compelling multi-modal platform for long-term applications of neural probe technology in both experimental and clinical neuroscience.
Project description:Understanding the cytoarchitecture and wiring of the brain requires improved methods to record and stimulate large groups of neurons with cellular specificity. This requires miniaturized neural interfaces that integrate into brain tissue without altering its properties. Existing neural interface technologies have been shown to provide high-resolution electrophysiological recording with high signal-to-noise ratio. However, with single implantation, the physical properties of these devices limit their access to one, small brain region. To overcome this limitation, we developed a platform that provides three-dimensional coverage of brain tissue through multisite multifunctional fiber-based neural probes guided in a helical scaffold. Chronic recordings from the spatially expandable fiber probes demonstrate the ability of these fiber probes capturing brain activities with a single-unit resolution for long observation times. Furthermore, using Thy1-ChR2-YFP mice we demonstrate the application of our probes in simultaneous recording and optical/chemical modulation of brain activities across distant regions. Similarly, varying electrographic brain activities from different brain regions were detected by our customizable probes in a mouse model of epilepsy, suggesting the potential of using these probes for the investigation of brain disorders such as epilepsy. Ultimately, this technique enables three-dimensional manipulation and mapping of brain activities across distant regions in the deep brain with minimal tissue damage, which can bring new insights for deciphering complex brain functions and dynamics in the near future.
Project description:Deep-level sensors for detecting the local temperatures of inner organs and tissues of an animal are rarely reported. In this paper, we present a method to fabricate multifunctional micro-probes with standard cleanroom procedures, using a piece of stainless-steel foil as the substrate. On each of the as-fabricated micro-probes, arrays of thermocouples made of Pd-Cr thin-film stripes with reliable thermal sensing functions were built, together with Pd electrode openings for detecting electrical signals. The as-fabricated sword-shaped freestanding microprobes with length up to 30 mm showed excellent mechanical strength and elastic properties when they were inserted into the brain and muscle tissues of live rats, as well as suitable electrochemical properties and, therefore, are promising for potential biological applications.
Project description:A chief goal in neuroscience is to understand how neuronal activity relates to behavior, perception, and cognition. However, monitoring neuronal activity over long periods of time is technically challenging, and limited, in part, by the invasive nature of recording tools. While electrodes allow for recording in freely-behaving animals, they tend to be bulky and stiff, causing damage to the tissue they are implanted in. One solution to this invasiveness problem may be probes that are small enough to fly under the immune system's radar. Carbon fiber (CF) electrodes are thinner and more flexible than typical metal or silicon electrodes, but the arrays described in previous reports had low channel counts and required time-consuming manual assembly. Here we report the design of an expanded-channel-count carbon fiber electrode array (CFEA) as well as a method for fast preparation of the recording sites using acid etching and electroplating with PEDOT-TFB, and demonstrate the ability of the 64-channel CFEA to record from rat visual cortex. We include designs for interfacing the system with micro-drives or flex-PCB cables for recording from multiple brain regions, as well as a facilitated method for coating CFs with the insulator Parylene-C. High-channel-count CFEAs may thus be an alternative to traditional microwire-based electrodes and a practical tool for exploring the neural code.