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Syringe Injectable Electronics: Precise Targeted Delivery with Quantitative Input/Output Connectivity

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posted on 14.10.2015, 00:00 by Guosong Hong, Tian-Ming Fu, Tao Zhou, Thomas G. Schuhmann, Jinlin Huang, Charles M. Lieber
Syringe-injectable mesh electronics with tissue-like mechanical properties and open macroporous structures is an emerging powerful paradigm for mapping and modulating brain activity. Indeed, the ultraflexible macroporous structure has exhibited unprecedented minimal/noninvasiveness and the promotion of attractive interactions with neurons in chronic studies. These same structural features also pose new challenges and opportunities for precise targeted delivery in specific brain regions and quantitative input/output (I/O) connectivity needed for reliable electrical measurements. Here, we describe new results that address in a flexible manner both of these points. First, we have developed a controlled injection approach that maintains the extended mesh structure during the “blind” injection process, while also achieving targeted delivery with ca. 20 μm spatial precision. Optical and microcomputed tomography results from injections into tissue-like hydrogel, ex vivo brain tissue, and in vivo brains validate our basic approach and demonstrate its generality. Second, we present a general strategy to achieve up to 100% multichannel I/O connectivity using an automated conductive ink printing methodology to connect the mesh electronics and a flexible flat cable, which serves as the standard “plug-in” interface to measurement electronics. Studies of resistance versus printed line width were used to identify optimal conditions, and moreover, frequency-dependent noise measurements show that the flexible printing process yields values comparable to commercial flip-chip bonding technology. Our results address two key challenges faced by syringe-injectable electronics and thereby pave the way for facile in vivo applications of injectable mesh electronics as a general and powerful tool for long-term mapping and modulation of brain activity in fundamental neuroscience through therapeutic biomedical studies.