An implantable microactuated intrafascicular electrode for peripheral nerves
Important advancements have been recently achieved in the field of neural interfaces to restore lost sensory and motor functions. The aim of this letter was to develop an innovative approach to increase the selectivity and the lifetime of polyimide-based intrafascicular electrodes. The main idea was to obtain a neural interface that is able to restore a good signal quality by improving the electrical connection between the active sites and the surrounding axons. The high flexibility of polyimide-based neural interfaces allows to embed microactuators in the interface core and achieve desired microdisplacements of the active sites. Nearly equiatomic nickel-titanium alloy was selected as a microactuator because of its shape memory effect. A single TiNi thin film was obtained by dc magnetron sputtering, and was segmented into four distinct sectors. This solution allowed the independent actuation of the different active sites (multiactuation). A corrugated profile was impressed to the new actuated intraneural (ACTIN) interface. The active sites were positioned in correspondence to the peaks of the corrugation, thus maximizing the effects of the single actuations. The technological results, the electrical properties, the thermal behavior, and eventually, the actuation performances of the current ACTIN prototype are shown and discussed. The actuation cycle was thermally compatible for biomedical applications. Promising results were obtained from the current ACTIN prototype with an average controlled movement of 7 mu m of the peaks.