Photodiode circuits for retinal prostheses

Loudin, James D. and Cogan, Stuart F. and Mathieson, Keith and Sher, Alexander and Palanker, Daniel V. (2011) Photodiode circuits for retinal prostheses. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems, 5 (5). pp. 468-480. ISSN 1932-4545 (

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Photodiode circuits show promise for the development of high-resolution retinal prostheses. While several of these systems have been constructed and some even implanted in humans, existing descriptions of the complex optoelectronic interaction between light, photodiode, and the electrode/electrolyte load are limited. This study examines this interaction in depth with theoretical calculations and experimental measurements. Actively biased photoconductive and passive photovoltaic circuits are investigated, with the photovoltaic circuits consisting of one or more diodes connected in series, and the photoconductive circuits consisting of a single diode in series with a pulsed bias voltage. Circuit behavior and charge injection levels were markedly different for platinum and sputtered iridium-oxide film (SIROF) electrodes. Photovoltaic circuits were able to deliver 0.038 mC/cm2 (0.75 nC/phase) per photodiode with 50- μm platinum electrodes, and 0.54-mC/cm2 (11 nC/phase) per photodiode with 50-μ m SIROF electrodes driven with 0.5-ms pulses of light at 25 Hz. The same pulses applied to photoconductive circuits with the same electrodes were able to deliver charge injections as high as 0.38 and 7.6 mC/cm2 (7.5 and 150 nC/phase), respectively. We demonstrate photovoltaic stimulation of rabbit retina in-vitro, with 0.5-ms pulses of 905-nm light using peak irradiance of 1 mW/mm2. Based on the experimental data, we derive electrochemical and optical safety limits for pixel density and charge injection in various circuits. While photoconductive circuits offer smaller pixels, photovoltaic systems do not require an external bias voltage. Both classes of circuits show promise for the development of high-resolution optoelectronic retinal prostheses.