Chronic microstimulation-based devices are being investigated to treat conditions such as blindness, deafness, pain, paralysis, and epilepsy. Small-area electrodes are desired to achieve high selectivity. However, a major trade-off with electrode miniaturization is an increase in impedance and charge density requirements. Thus, the development of novel materials with lower interfacial impedance and enhanced charge storage capacity is essential for the development of micro-neural interface-based neuroprostheses. In this report, we study the use of conducting polymer poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) as a neural interface material for microstimulation of small-area iridium electrodes on silicon-substrate arrays. Characterized by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, electrodeposition of PEDOT results in lower interfacial impedance at physiologically relevant frequencies, with the 1 kHz impedance magnitude being 23.3 +/- 0.7 kOmega, compared to 113.6 +/- 3.5 kOmega for iridium oxide (IrOx) on 177 mum(2) sites. Further, PEDOT exhibits enhanced charge storage capacity at 75.6 +/- 5.4 mC/cm(2) compared to 28.8 +/- 0.3 mC/cm(2) for IrOx, characterized by cyclic voltammetry (50 mV/s). These improvements at the electrode interface were corroborated by observation of the voltage excursions that result from constant current pulsing. The PEDOT coatings provide both a lower amplitude voltage and a more ohmic representation of the applied current compared to IrOx. During repetitive pulsing, PEDOT-coated electrodes show stable performance and little change in electrical properties, even at relatively high current densities which cause IrOx instability. These findings support the potential of PEDOT coatings as a micro-neural interface material for electrostimulation.
Keywords: charge injection; cyclic voltammetry; impedance; iridium oxide; microelectrode.