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Open AccessArticle

Amorphous Silicon Carbide Platform for Next Generation Penetrating Neural Interface Designs

1
Department of Bioengineering, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX 75080, USA
2
Department of Biology and Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Micromachines 2018, 9(10), 480; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi9100480
Received: 31 July 2018 / Revised: 9 September 2018 / Accepted: 17 September 2018 / Published: 20 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neural Microelectrodes: Design and Applications)
Microelectrode arrays that consistently and reliably record and stimulate neural activity under conditions of chronic implantation have so far eluded the neural interface community due to failures attributed to both biotic and abiotic mechanisms. Arrays with transverse dimensions of 10 µm or below are thought to minimize the inflammatory response; however, the reduction of implant thickness also decreases buckling thresholds for materials with low Young’s modulus. While these issues have been overcome using stiffer, thicker materials as transport shuttles during implantation, the acute damage from the use of shuttles may generate many other biotic complications. Amorphous silicon carbide (a-SiC) provides excellent electrical insulation and a large Young’s modulus, allowing the fabrication of ultrasmall arrays with increased resistance to buckling. Prototype a-SiC intracortical implants were fabricated containing 8 - 16 single shanks which had critical thicknesses of either 4 µm or 6 µm. The 6 µm thick a-SiC shanks could penetrate rat cortex without an insertion aid. Single unit recordings from SIROF-coated arrays implanted without any structural support are presented. This work demonstrates that a-SiC can provide an excellent mechanical platform for devices that penetrate cortical tissue while maintaining a critical thickness less than 10 µm. View Full-Text
Keywords: amorphous silicon carbide; neural stimulation and recording; insertion force; microelectrodes; neural interfaces amorphous silicon carbide; neural stimulation and recording; insertion force; microelectrodes; neural interfaces
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Deku, F.; Frewin, C.L.; Stiller, A.; Cohen, Y.; Aqeel, S.; Joshi-Imre, A.; Black, B.; Gardner, T.J.; Pancrazio, J.J.; Cogan, S.F. Amorphous Silicon Carbide Platform for Next Generation Penetrating Neural Interface Designs. Micromachines 2018, 9, 480.

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