Neural electrode resilience against dielectric damage may be improved by use of highly doped silicon as a conductive material

By Caldwell, Ryan; Sharma, Rohit; Takmakov, Pavel; Street, Matthew G.; Solzbacher, Florian; Tathireddy, Prashant; Rieth, Loren
Published in Journal of Neuroscience Methods 2018


AbstractBackground Dielectric damage occurring in vivo to neural electrodes, leading to conductive material exposure and impedance reduction over time, limits the functional lifetime and clinical viability of neuroprosthetics. We used silicon micromachined Utah Electrode Arrays (UEAs) with iridium oxide (IrOx) tip metallization and parylene C dielectric encapsulation to understand the factors affecting device resilience and drive improvements. New method In vitro impedance measurements and finite element analyses were conducted to evaluate how exposed surface area of silicon and IrOx affect {UEA} properties. Through an aggressive in vitro reactive accelerated aging (RAA) protocol, in vivo parylene degradation was simulated on {UEAs} to explore agreement with our models. Electrochemical properties of silicon and other common electrode materials were compared to help inform material choice in future neural electrode designs. Results Exposure of silicon on {UEAs} was found to primarily affect impedance at frequencies >1 kHz, while characteristics at 1 kHz and below were largely unchanged. Post-RAA impedance reduction of {UEAs} was mitigated in cases where dielectric damage was more likely to expose silicon instead of IrOx. Silicon was found to have a per-area electrochemical impedance >10

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