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Micromachines 2018, 9(9), 424; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi9090424

Development, Modeling, Fabrication, and Characterization of a Magnetic, Micro-Spring-Suspended System for the Safe Electrical Interconnection of Neural Implants

1
Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK), University of Freiburg, 79110 Freiburg, Germany
2
BrainLinks-BrainTools Cluster of Excellence, University of Freiburg, 79110 Freiburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 July 2018 / Revised: 20 August 2018 / Accepted: 21 August 2018 / Published: 23 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neural Microelectrodes: Design and Applications)
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Abstract

The development of innovative tools for neuroscientific research is based on in vivo tests typically applied to small animals. Most often, the interfacing of neural probes relies on commercially available connector systems which are difficult to handle during connection, particularly when freely behaving animals are involved. Furthermore, the connectors often exert high mechanical forces during plugging and unplugging, potentially damaging the fragile bone structure. In order to facilitate connector usage and increase the safety of laboratory animals, we developed a new magnetic connector system circumventing the drawbacks of existing tools. The connector system uses multiple magnet pairs and spring-suspended electrical contact pads realized using micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technologies. While the contact pad suspension increases the system tolerance in view of geometrical variations, we achieved a reliable self-alignment of the connector parts at ±50 µm provided by the specifically oriented magnet pairs and without the need of alignment pins. While connection forces are negligible, we can adjust the forces during connector release by modifying the magnet distance. With the connector test structures developed here, we achieved an electrical connection yield of 100%. Based on these findings, we expect that in vivo experiments with freely behaving animals will be facilitated with improved animal safety. View Full-Text
Keywords: neural interfacing; micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technologies; microelectromechanical systems; neuroscientific research; magnetic coupling; freely-behaving neural interfacing; micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technologies; microelectromechanical systems; neuroscientific research; magnetic coupling; freely-behaving
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Hoch, K.; Pothof, F.; Becker, F.; Paul, O.; Ruther, P. Development, Modeling, Fabrication, and Characterization of a Magnetic, Micro-Spring-Suspended System for the Safe Electrical Interconnection of Neural Implants. Micromachines 2018, 9, 424.

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