Carbon-Nanotube-Coated Surface Electrodes for Cortical Recordings In Vivo
Current developments of electrodes for neural recordings address the need of biomedical research and applications for high spatial acuity in electrophysiological recordings. One approach is the usage of novel materials to overcome electrochemical constraints of state-of-the-art metal contacts. Promising materials are carbon nanotubes (CNTs), as they are well suited for neural interfacing. The CNTs increase the effective contact surface area to decrease high impedances while keeping minimal contact diameters. However, to prevent toxic dissolving of CNTs, an appropriate surface coating is required. In this study, we tested flexible surface electrocorticographic (ECoG) electrodes, coated with a CNT-silicone rubber composite. First, we describe the outcome of surface etching, which exposes the contact nanostructure while anchoring the CNTs. Subsequently, the ECoG electrodes were used for acute in vivo recordings of auditory evoked potentials from the guinea pig auditory cortex. Both the impedances and the signal-to-noise ratios of coated contacts were similar to uncoated gold contacts. This novel approach for a safe application of CNTs, embedded in a surface etched silicone rubber, showed promising results but did not lead to improvements during acute recordings.