Hybrid Multisite Silicon Neural Probe with Integrated Flexible Connector for Interchangeable Packaging
International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL), 4715-330 Braga, Portugal
Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS), School of Medicine, University of Minho, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal
ICVS/3B’s—PT Government Associate Laboratory, 4710-057 Braga/Guimarães, Portugal
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Gaspar Rego and Paulo M. Mendes
Sensors 2021, 21(8), 2605; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21082605
Received: 9 February 2021 / Revised: 30 March 2021 / Accepted: 6 April 2021 / Published: 8 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Portugal 2020-2021)
Multisite neural probes are a fundamental tool to study brain function. Hybrid silicon/polymer neural probes combine rigid silicon and flexible polymer parts into one single device and allow, for example, the precise integration of complex probe geometries, such as multishank designs, with flexible biocompatible cabling. Despite these advantages and benefiting from highly reproducible fabrication methods on both silicon and polymer substrates, they have not been widely available. This paper presents the development, fabrication, characterization, and in vivo electrophysiological assessment of a hybrid multisite multishank silicon probe with a monolithically integrated polyimide flexible interconnect cable. The fabrication process was optimized at wafer level, and several neural probes with 64 gold electrode sites equally distributed along 8 shanks with an integrated 8 µm thick highly flexible polyimide interconnect cable were produced. The monolithic integration of the polyimide cable in the same fabrication process removed the necessity of the postfabrication bonding of the cable to the probe. This is the highest electrode site density and thinnest flexible cable ever reported for a hybrid silicon/polymer probe. Additionally, to avoid the time-consuming bonding of the probe to definitive packaging, the flexible cable was designed to terminate in a connector pad that can mate with commercial zero-insertion force (ZIF) connectors for electronics interfacing. This allows great experimental flexibility because interchangeable packaging can be used according to experimental demands. High-density distributed in vivo electrophysiological recordings were obtained from the hybrid neural probes with low intrinsic noise and high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR).