Minimally-invasive insertion strategy and in vivo evaluation of multi-shank flexible intracortical probes
Chronically implanted neural probes are powerful tools to decode brain activity however, recording population and spiking activity over long periods remains a major challenge. Here, we designed and fabricated flexible intracortical Michigan-style arrays with a shank cross-section per electrode of 250 μm[Formula: see text] utilizing the polymer paryleneC with the goal to improve the immune acceptance. As flexible neural probes are unable to penetrate the brain due to the low buckling force threshold, a tissue-friendly insertion system was developed by reducing the effective shank length. The insertion strategy enabled the implantation of the four, bare, flexible shanks up to 2 mm into the mouse brain without increasing the implantation footprint and therefore, minimizing the acute trauma. In acute recordings from the mouse somatosensory cortex and the olfactory bulb, we demonstrated that the flexible probes were able to simultaneously detect local field potentials as well as single and multi-unit activity. Additionally, the flexible arrays outperformed stiff probes with respect to yield of single unit activity. Following the successful in vivo validation, we further improved the microfabrication towards a double-metal-layer process, and were able to double the number of electrodes per shank by keeping the shank width resulting in a cross-section per electrode of 118 μm[Formula: see text].