Incorporating optical methods into implantable neural sensing devices is a challenging approach for brain–machine interfacing. Specifically, voltage-sensitive dye (VSD) imaging is a powerful tool enabling visualization of the network activity of thousands of neurons at high spatiotemporal resolution. However, VSD imaging usually requires removal of the dura mater for dye staining, and thereafter the exposed cortex needs to be protected using an optically transparent artificial dura. This is a major disadvantage that limits repeated VSD imaging over the long term. To address this issue, we propose to use an atelocollagen membrane as the dura substitute. We fabricated a small cranial chamber device, which is a tubular structure equipped with a collagen membrane at one end of the tube. We implanted the device into rats and monitored neural activity in the frontal cortex 1 week following surgery. The results indicate that the collagen membrane was chemically transparent, allowing VSD staining across the membrane material. The membrane was also optically transparent enough to pass light; forelimb-evoked neural activity was successfully visualized through the artificial dura. Because of its ideal chemical and optical manipulation capability, this collagen membrane may be widely applicable in various implantable neural sensors.
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