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High spatial resolution probes for neurobiology applications

Gunning, D. E. and Kenney, C. J. and Litke, A. M. and Mathieson, K. (2009) High spatial resolution probes for neurobiology applications. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment, 604 (1-2). pp. 104-107. ISSN 0168-9002

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Abstract

Position-sensitive biological neural networks, such as the brain and the retina, require positionsensitive detection methods to identify, map and study their behavior. Traditionally, planar microelectrodes have been employed to record the cell’s electrical activity with device limitations arising from the electrode’s 2-D nature. Described here is the development and characterization of an array of electrically conductive micro-needles aimed at addressing the limitations of planar electrodes. The capability of this array to penetrate neural tissue improves the electrode-cell electrical interface and allows more complicated 3-D networks of neurons, such as those found in brain slices, to be studied. State-of-the-art semiconductor fabrication techniques were used to etch and passivate conformally the metal coat and fill high aspect ratio holes in silicon. These are subsequently transformed into needles with conductive tips. This process has enabled the fabrication of arrays of unprecedented dimensions: 61 hexagonally close-packed electrodes, 200 mm tall with 60 mm spacing. Electroplating the tungsten tips with platinum ensure suitable impedance values (600 kO at 1 kHz) for the recording of neuronal signals. Without compromising spatial resolution of the neuronal recordings, this array adds a new and exciting dimension to the study of biological neural networks