Intra-Cortical Microelectrode Arrays for Neuro-Interfacing
Gabran, Salam Ramy
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Neuro-engineering is an emerging multi-disciplinary domain which investigates the electrophysiological activities of the nervous system. It provides procedures and techniques to explore, analyze and characterize the functions of the different components comprising the nervous system. Neuro-engineering is not limited to research applications; it is employed in developing unconventional therapeutic techniques for treating different neurological disorders and restoring lost sensory or motor functions. Microelectrodes are principal elements in functional electric stimulation (FES) systems used in electrophysiological procedures. They are used in establishing an interface with the individual neurons or in clusters to record activities and communications, as well as modulate neuron behaviour through stimulation. Microelectrode technologies progressed through several modifications and innovations to improve their functionality and usability. However, conventional electrode technologies are open to further development, and advancement in microelectrodes technology will progressively meliorate the neuro-interfacing and electrotherapeutic techniques. This research introduced design methodology and fabrication processes for intra-cortical microelectrodes capable of befitting a wide range of design requirements and applications. The design process was employed in developing and implementing an ensemble of intra-cortical microelectrodes customized for different neuro-interfacing applications. The proposed designs presented several innovations and novelties. The research addressed practical considerations including assembly and interconnection to external circuitry. The research was concluded by exhibiting the Waterloo Array which is a high channel count flexible 3-D neuro-interfacing array. Finally, the dissertation was concluded by demonstrating the characterization, in vitro and acute in vivo testing results of the Waterloo Array. The implemented electrodes were tested and benchmarked against commercial equivalents and the results manifested improvement in the electrode performance compared to conventional electrodes. Electrode testing and evaluation were conducted in the Krembil Neuroscience Centre Research Lab (Toronto Western Hospital), and the Neurosciences & Mental Health Research Institute (the Sick Kids hospital). The research results and outcomes are currently being employed in developing chronic intra-cortical and electrocorticography (ECoG) electrode arrays for the epilepsy research and rodents nervous system investigations. The introduced electrode technologies will be used to develop customized designs for the clinical research labs collaborating with CIRFE Lab.