Implantable neurotechnologies: a review of micro- and nanoelectrodes for neural recording

Anoop C. Patil, Nitish V. Thakor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Electrodes serve as the first critical interface to the biological organ system. In neuroprosthetic applications, for example, electrodes interface to the tissue for either signal recording or tissue stimulation. In this review, we consider electrodes for recording neural activity. Recording electrodes serve as wiretaps into the neural tissues, providing readouts of electrical activity. These signals give us valuable insights into the organization and functioning of the nervous system. The recording interfaces have also shown promise in aiding treatment of motor and sensory disabilities caused by neurological disorders. Recent advances in fabrication technology have generated wide interest in creating tiny, high-density electrode interfaces for neural tissues. An ideal electrode should be small enough and be able to achieve reliable and conformal integration with the structures of the nervous system. As a result, the existing electrode designs are being shrunk and packed to form small form factor interfaces to tissue. Here, an overview of the historic and state-of-the-art electrode technologies for recording neural activity is presented first with a focus on their development road map. The fact that the dimensions of recording electrode sites are being scaled down from micron to submicron scale to enable dense interfaces is appreciated. The current trends in recording electrode technologies are then reviewed. Current and future considerations in electrode design, including the use of inorganic nanostructures and biologically inspired or biocomapatible materials are discussed, along with an overview of the applications of flexible materials and transistor transduction schemes. Finally, we detail the major technical challenges facing chronic use of reliable recording electrode technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-44
Number of pages22
JournalMedical and Biological Engineering and Computing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Neural interfaces
  • Neural prostheses
  • Neural recording
  • Neural recording technology
  • Recording electrodes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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