Coating microelectrodes with conductive polymer is widely recognized to decrease impedance and improve performance of implantable neural devices during recording and stimulation. A concern for wide-spread use of this approach is shelf-life, i.e.
, the electrochemical stability of the coated microelectrodes prior to use. In this work, we investigated the possibility of using the freeze-drying process in order to retain the native low impedance state and, thereby, improve the shelf-life of conductive polymer poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT)-PSS modified neural electrodes. Control PEDOT-PSS coated microelectrodes demonstrated a significant increase in impedance at 1 kHz after 41–50 days of room temperature storage. Based on equivalent circuit modeling derived from electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, this increase in impedance could be largely attributed to a decrease in the interfacial capacitance consistent with a collapse and closing of the porous structure of the polymeric coating. Time-dependent electrochemical impedance measurements revealed higher stability of the freeze-dried coated microelectrodes compared to the controls, such that impedance values after 41–50 days appeared to be indistinguishable from the initial levels. This suggests that freeze drying PEDOT-PSS coated microelectrodes correlates with enhanced electrochemical stability during shelf storage.
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