Objective: The vision of bioelectronic medicine is to treat disease by modulating the signaling of visceral nerves near various end organs. In small animal models, the nerves of interest can have small diameters and limited surgical access. New high-resolution methods for building nerve interfaces are desirable. In this study, we present a novel nerve interface and demonstrate its use for stimulation and recording in small nerves.
Approach: We design and fabricate micro-scale electrode-laden nanoclips capable of interfacing with nerves as small as 50 µm in diameter. The nanoclips are fabricated using a direct laser writing technique with a resolution of 200 nm. The resolution of the printing process allows for incorporation of a number of innovations such as trapdoors to secure the device to the nerve, and quick-release mounts that facilitate keyhole surgery, obviating the need for forceps. The nanoclip can be built around various electrode materials; here we use carbon nanotube fibers for minimally invasive tethering.
Main results: We present data from stimulation-evoked responses of the tracheal syringeal (hypoglossal) nerve of the zebra finch, as well as quantification of nerve functionality at various time points post implant, demonstrating that the nanoclip is compatible with healthy nerve activity over sub-chronic timescales.
Significance: Our nerve interface addresses key challenges in interfacing with small nerves in the peripheral nervous system. Its small size, ability to remain on the nerve over sub-chronic timescales, and ease of implantation, make it a promising tool for future use in the treatment of disease.