16. Nanoelectronic coating enabled versatile multi-functional neural probes

Zhengtuo Zhao, Lan Luan, Xiaoling Wei, Hanlin Zhu, Xue Li, Shengqing Lin, Jennifer J Siegel, Raymond A Chitwood, Chong Xie

Nano Letters, 17, 4588 (2017)

Brain function can be best studied by simultaneous measurements and modulation of the multifaceted signaling at the cellular scale. Extensive efforts have been made to develop multifunctional neural probes, typically involving highly specialized fabrication processes. Here, we report a novel multifunctional neural probe platform realized by applying ultrathin nanoelectronic coating (NEC) on the surfaces of conventional microscale devices such as optical fibers and micropipettes. We fabricated the NECs by planar photolithography techniques using a substrate-less and multilayer design, which host arrays of individually addressed electrodes with an overall thickness below 1 μm. Guided by an analytic model and taking advantage of the surface tension, we precisely aligned and coated the NEC devices on the surfaces of these conventional microprobes and enabled electrical recording capabilities on par with the state-of-the-art neural electrodes. We further demonstrated optogenetic stimulation and controlled drug infusion with simultaneous, spatially resolved neural recording in a rodent model. This study provides a low-cost, versatile approach to construct multifunctional neural probes that can be applied to both fundamental and translational neuroscience.