Flexible and stretchable micro-electrodes for in vitro and in vivo neural interfaces
Microelectrode arrays (MEAs) are designed to monitor and/or stimulate extracellularly neuronal activity. However, the biomechanical and structural mismatch between current MEAs and neural tissues remains a challenge for neural interfaces. This article describes a material strategy to prepare neural electrodes with improved mechanical compliance that relies on thin metal film electrodes embedded in polymeric substrates. The electrode impedance of micro-electrodes on polymer is comparable to that of MEA on glass substrates. Furthermore, MEAs on plastic can be flexed and rolled offering improved structural interface with brain and nerves in vivo. MEAs on elastomer can be stretched reversibly and provide in vitro unique platforms to simultaneously investigate the electrophysiological of neural cells and tissues to mechanical stimulation. Adding mechanical compliance to MEAs is a promising vehicle for robust and reliable neural interfaces.