In vitro comparison of sputtered iridium oxide and platinum-coated neural implantable microelectrode arrays

Biomed Mater. 2010 Feb;5(1):15007. doi: 10.1088/1748-6041/5/1/015007. Epub 2010 Feb 3.


Neural interfaces connect signal processing electronics to the nervous system via implanted microelectrode arrays such as the Utah electrode array (UEA). The active sites of the UEA are coated with thin films of either platinum (Pt) or iridium oxide (IrOx). Pt and IrOx have attracted attention as a stimulating or recording material due to their ability to transfer between ionic and electronic current and to resist corrosion. The physical, mechanical, chemical, electrical and optical properties of thin films depend on the method and deposition parameters used to deposit the films. In this work, surface morphology, impedance and charge capacity of Pt and sputtered iridium oxide film (SIROF) were investigated and compared with each other. UEAs with similar electrode area and shape were employed in this study. DC sputtering was used to deposit Pt films and pulsed-dc reactive sputtering was used to deposit SIROF. The electrodes coated with SIROF and Pt were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, cyclic voltammetry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and potential transient measurements to measure charge injection capacity (CIC). SIROF and Pt selectively deposited on the electrode tip had dendrite and granular microstructure, respectively. The CIC of unbiased SIROF and Pt was 2 and 0.3 mC cm(-2), respectively. The average impedance at 1 kHz, of SIROF and Pt electrodes, was 6 kOmega and 125 kOmega, respectively. Low impedance and high CIC make SIROF promising stimulation/recording material for neural prosthetic applications.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible / chemistry*
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electrodes, Implanted*
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Hot Temperature
  • Iridium / chemistry*
  • Materials Testing
  • Microelectrodes*
  • Platinum / chemistry*
  • Surface Properties


  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible
  • iridium oxide
  • Iridium
  • Platinum