Novel, Chronic, Volume Microelectrodes for the Broad Neuroscience Community Project Summary Neuroscience researchers studying the nervous system have relied on microelectrode devices to record neural activity for decades. Microelectrodes are micro-scale structures with exposed conductive regions that are inserted within nervous systems to record the activity of neurons nearby. Current research uses microelectrodes to investigate a diverse range of conditions and areas, including: paralysis, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, the auditory system, the vision system, chronic pain, and optogenetics. Microelectrodes play a critical role in research: they influence the directions scientists pursue, determine what data is collected, and ultimately what information is available to the scientific community. A broad range of neural researchers desire to record precise volumes of neural tissue with microelectrodes (many more neurons nearby) to attain more data and compensate for electrode migration (during some experiments, microelectrodes shift out of the desired position). Commercially available microelectrodes do not provide the ability to record entire volumes for chronic experimentation and are constrained by their decades old designs and manufacturing processes. To compensate for this, the neural research community currently resorts to expensive and lengthy customized development projects with microelectrode fabrication houses or attempt to build their own microelectrodes. To address the needs of researchers, the objective of this project is the transition of the first chronic, volume recording microelectrode from the lab to an affordable and pragmatic commercial product for the broad neuroscience research community. The proposed solution will be customized by neural research customers and shipped quickly to satisfy their needs. The company recently sold eight prototype microelectrode units at competitive microelectrode pricing within two separate orders to neuroscience researchers at top tier institutions. The objectives of this Phase I project are to (1) Develop and prototype sample custom configured chronic volume microelectrodes and their required insertion holder (three different product configurations will be produced). (2) Set up a manufacturing platform and produce a pilot run of ten microelectrode units and insertion holders. (3) Set up and execute verification testing protocols for all sample microelectrodes and insertion holders, including user and customer field studies. Successful completion of Phase I will result in a product pilot run and a manufacturing process that will be transitioned to high volume production in Phase II to provide neuroscience researchers with cost-effective, chronic, volume microelectrodes that attain eight times more data per cubic millimeter than existing commercial chronic microelectrodes.
Within neuroscience research, microelectrode devices perform a critical role in many experiments by recording brain activity. Researchers currently rely on costly custom microelectrodes that do not provide a high density of recording sites within neural tissue. The proposed project will transition a patent pending and innovative microelectrode from the lab to a cost-effective and pragmatic commercial solution for the broad neuroscience community that provides eight times more recording sites within a cubic millimeter of neural tissue than commercial electrodes.