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J Neural Eng. 2015 Feb;12(1):011001. doi: 10.1088/1741-2560/12/1/011001. Epub 2014 Dec 2.

Progress towards biocompatible intracortical microelectrodes for neural interfacing applications.

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Adolphe Merkle Institute, University of Fribourg, Rte de l'Ancienne Papeterie, CH-1723 Marly, Switzerland.


To ensure long-term consistent neural recordings, next-generation intracortical microelectrodes are being developed with an increased emphasis on reducing the neuro-inflammatory response. The increased emphasis stems from the improved understanding of the multifaceted role that inflammation may play in disrupting both biologic and abiologic components of the overall neural interface circuit. To combat neuro-inflammation and improve recording quality, the field is actively progressing from traditional inorganic materials towards approaches that either minimizes the microelectrode footprint or that incorporate compliant materials, bioactive molecules, conducting polymers or nanomaterials. However, the immune-privileged cortical tissue introduces an added complexity compared to other biomedical applications that remains to be fully understood. This review provides a comprehensive reflection on the current understanding of the key failure modes that may impact intracortical microelectrode performance. In addition, a detailed overview of the current status of various materials-based approaches that have gained interest for neural interfacing applications is presented, and key challenges that remain to be overcome are discussed. Finally, we present our vision on the future directions of materials-based treatments to improve intracortical microelectrodes for neural interfacing.

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