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Research on nanostructured neural interfaces

Feb 2013

Implantable neural interfaces have the potential to revolutionize neuroscience research and clinical therapy, but still suffer from a number of shortcomings related to e.g. instability with respect to recorded neurons and tissue reactions that encapsulate and insulate the implant.

Since the recording properties depend, to a large extent, on the electrode surface properties and the tissue reactions to the surface, research on nanostructured surfaces in order to improve recording properties of neural interfaces is crucial.

Indeed, nanostructured electrodes are considered as a promising alternative to conventional neuronal interfaces since they may provide advantages such as a better spatial resolution, a shorter cell-to-electrode distance, as well as improved electrical properties.

They also have a potential for better biocompatibility, less tissue damage and new functionalities, such as selective guidance of neuronal fibers. Importantly, cell signal recordings with different nanowire-based electrodes have recently been achieved in vitro and it has been shown that the small diameter of epitaxially grown wires may provide a minimally invasive tissue penetration.

However, in vivo studies of nanostructured neuronal electrodes have, so far, only been performed using carbon nanotubes without structural features control and in combination with rather big surfaces.

Hence, further research on nanostructured neural interfaces with structural features control is needed in order to interface the nervous tissue in an optimal way and ultimately allow constructions of electrodes for in vivo neuronal recordings on the sub cellular level with minimal side effects.

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