A fiber-shaped neural probe with alterable elastic moduli for direct implantation and stable electronic–brain interfaces†
Researchers developing implantable neural probes face a dilemma. Rigid neural probes facilitate direct implantation, but the brain tissue suffers from a vulnerable interface and a strong neuroinflammatory response due to mechanical mismatch between the probe and the brain tissue. Flexible neural probes offer stable interfaces and eliminate neuroinflammatory responses but require auxiliary implantation. Here, we have created a new kind of micro fiber-shaped neural probe with alterable elastic moduli before and after implantation. Carbon nanotube fibers and calcium crosslinked sodium alginate functioned as the core electrode and sheath layer, respectively. The response of calcium crosslinked sodium alginate to water will alter the probe elastic moduli from ∼10 GPa to ∼10 kPa post implantation, which is close to the elastic modulus of brain tissue. The micro fiber probes were directly implanted into mouse brains without any additional materials. After implantation, they became soft and offered dynamically adaptable interfaces with a reduced inflammatory response, benefiting long-term monitoring of neuron signals. Continuous four week monitoring of neuron signals was achieved. The simplicity of the strategy makes it suitable for versatile neuron techniques in neuron recording and modulation.