Microelectrodes provide a direct pathway to investigate brain activities electrically from the external world, which has advanced our fundamental understanding of brain functions and has been utilized for rehabilitative applications as brain-machine interfaces. However, minimizing the tissue response and prolonging the functional durations of these devices remain challenging. Therefore, the development of next-generation microelectrodes as neural interfaces is actively progressing from traditional inorganic materials toward biocompatible and functional organic materials with a miniature footprint, good flexibility, and reasonable robustness. In this study, we developed a miniaturized all polymer-based neural probe with carbon nanofiber (CNF) composites as recording electrodes via the scalable thermal drawing process. We demonstrated that in situ CNF unidirectional alignment can be achieved during the thermal drawing, which contributes to a drastic improvement of electrical conductivity by 2 orders of magnitude compared to a conventional polymer electrode, while still maintaining the mechanical compliance with brain tissues. The resulting neural probe has a miniature footprint, including a recording site with a reduced size comparable to a single neuron and maintained impedance that was able to capture neural activities. Its stable functionality as a chronic implant has been demonstrated with the long-term reliable electrophysiological recording with single-spike resolution and the minimal tissue response over the extended period of implantation in wild-type mice. Technology developed here can be applied to basic chronic electrophysiological studies as well as clinical implementation for neuro-rehabilitative applications.
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