New Approach toward Laser-Assisted Modification of Biocompatible Polymers Relevant to Neural Interfacing Technologies
We report on a new approach toward a laser-assisted modification of biocompatible polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) elastomers relevant to the fabrication of stretchable multielectrode arrays (MEAs) devices for neural interfacing technologies. These applications require high-density electrode packaging to provide a high-resolution integrating system for neural stimulation and/or recording. Medical grade PDMS elastomers are highly flexible with low Young’s modulus &lt; 1 MPa, which are similar to soft tissue (nerve, brain, muscles) among the other known biopolymers, and can easily adjust to the soft tissue curvatures. This property ensures tight contact between the electrodes and tissue and promotes intensive development of PDMS-based MEAs interfacing devices in the basic neuroscience, neural prosthetics, and hybrid bionic systems, connecting the human nervous system with electronic or robotic prostheses for restoring and treating neurological diseases. By using the UV harmonics 266 and 355 nm of Nd:YAG laser medical grade PDMS elastomer is modified by ns-laser ablation of in water. A new approach of processing is proposed to (i) activate the surface and to obtain tracks with (ii) symmetric U-shaped profiles and (iii) homogeneous microstructure This technology provides miniaturization of the device and successful functionalization by electroless metallization of the tracks with platinum (Pt) without preliminary sensitization by tin (Sn) and chemical activation by palladium (Pd). As a result, platinum black layers with a cauliflower-like structure with low values of sheet resistance between 1 and 8 ?/sq are obtained.