Partially flexible MEMS neural probe composed of polyimide and sucrose gel for reducing brain damage during and after implantation

Myounggun Jeon, Jeiwon Cho, Yun Kyung Kim, Dahee Jung, Eui Sung Yoon, Sehyun Shin, Il Joo Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a flexible microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) neural probe that minimizes neuron damage and immune response, suitable for chronic recording applications. MEMS neural probes with various features such as high electrode densities have been actively investigated for neuron stimulation and recording to study brain functions. However, successful recording of neural signals in chronic application using rigid silicon probes still remains challenging because of cell death and macrophages accumulated around the electrodes over time from continuous brain movement. Thus, in this paper, we propose a new flexible MEMS neural probe that consists of two segments: a polyimide-based, flexible segment for connection and a rigid segment composed of thin silicon for insertion. While the flexible connection segment is designed to reduce the long-term chronic neuron damage, the thin insertion segment is designed to minimize the brain damage during the insertion process. The proposed flexible neural probe was successfully fabricated using the MEMS process on a silicon on insulator wafer. For a successful insertion, a biodegradable sucrose gel is coated on the flexible segment to temporarily increase the probe stiffness to prevent buckling. After the insertion, the sucrose gel dissolves inside the brain exposing the polyimide probe. By performing an insertion test, we confirm that the flexible probe has enough stiffness. In addition, by monitoring immune responses and brain histology, we successfully demonstrate that the proposed flexible neural probe incurs fivefold less neural damage than that incurred by a conventional silicon neural probe. Therefore, the presented flexible neural probe is a promising candidate for recording stable neural signals for long-time chronic applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number025010
JournalJournal of Micromechanics and Microengineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Feb


  • MEMS neural probe
  • flexible probe
  • neuron damage
  • polyimide
  • sucrose gel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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