, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 371-383
Date: 18 Jan 2007

Design criteria of neuron/electrode interface. The focused ion beam technology as an analytical method to investigate the effect of electrode surface morphology on neurocompatibility

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“Neurocompatibility” is a broad definition which comprises aspects of biocompatibility, chemical and physical surface properties, and biostability of an artificial substrate interfaced with a neural tissue.

The main issue coming from the analysis of the state of art of neuroprosthesis and neuron/electrode interfaces is the strong influence of electrode surface morphology on neurocompatibility. Enhanced functions of neurons have been observed on nano-structured materials.

This paper proposes the use of focused ion beam (FIB) technology as high precision machining technique to modify the surface morphology of an interface material. By controlling the ion milling in three dimensions, the fabrication of a surface with any predefined morphology becomes possible with nanometric precision.

In vitro tests on PC12 cells cultured on surfaces with different morphologies show that the surface morphology influences the cell adhesion. Experimental results suggest an enhancement of the interaction between cells and artificial surfaces at a specific scale (tens of nanometres) which is the typical scale of cellular interaction in the extra-cellular matrix (ECM) of living organisms.