A soft, transparent, freely accessible cranial window for chronic imaging and electrophysiology

Sci Rep. 2016 Jun 10;6:27818. doi: 10.1038/srep27818.


Chronic in vivo imaging and electrophysiology are important for better understanding of neural functions and circuits. We introduce the new cranial window using soft, penetrable, elastic, and transparent, silicone-based polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) as a substitute for the skull and dura in both rats and mice. The PDMS can be readily tailored to any size and shape to cover large brain area. Clear and healthy cortical vasculatures were observed up to 15 weeks post-implantation. Real-time hemodynamic responses were successfully monitored during sensory stimulation. Furthermore, the PDMS window allowed for easy insertion of microelectrodes and micropipettes into the cortical tissue for electrophysiological recording and chemical injection at any location without causing any fluid leakage. Longitudinal two-photon microscopic imaging of Cx3Cr1(+/- GFP) transgenic mice was comparable with imaging via a conventional glass-type cranial window, even immediately following direct intracortical injection. This cranial window will facilitate direct probing and mapping for long-term brain studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 4-Aminopyridine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • CX3C Chemokine Receptor 1 / genetics
  • CX3C Chemokine Receptor 1 / metabolism
  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes / chemistry
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena* / drug effects
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence, Multiphoton
  • Potassium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Silicon / chemistry


  • CX3C Chemokine Receptor 1
  • Cx3cr1 protein, mouse
  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes
  • Potassium Channel Blockers
  • baysilon
  • 4-Aminopyridine
  • Silicon