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Nanoporous Gold as a Neural Interface Coating: Effects of Topography, Surface Chemistry, and Feature Size

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journal contribution
posted on 08.04.2015, 00:00 by Christopher A. R. Chapman, Hao Chen, Marianna Stamou, Juergen Biener, Monika M. Biener, Pamela J. Lein, Erkin Seker
Designing neural interfaces that maintain close physical coupling of neurons to an electrode surface remains a major challenge for both implantable and in vitro neural recording electrode arrays. Typically, low-impedance nanostructured electrode coatings rely on chemical cues from pharmaceuticals or surface-immobilized peptides to suppress glial scar tissue formation over the electrode surface (astrogliosis), which is an obstacle to reliable neuron–electrode coupling. Nanoporous gold (np-Au), produced by an alloy corrosion process, is a promising candidate to reduce astrogliosis solely through topography by taking advantage of its tunable length scale. In the present in vitro study on np-Au’s interaction with cortical neuron–glia co-cultures, we demonstrate that the nanostructure of np-Au achieves close physical coupling of neurons by maintaining a high neuron-to-astrocyte surface coverage ratio. Atomic layer deposition-based surface modification was employed to decouple the effect of morphology from surface chemistry. Additionally, length scale effects were systematically studied by controlling the characteristic feature size of np-Au through variations in the dealloying conditions. Our results show that np-Au nanotopography, not surface chemistry, reduces astrocyte surface coverage while maintaining high neuronal coverage and may enhance neuron–electrode coupling through nanostructure-mediated suppression of scar tissue formation.