Multielectrode arrays create the interfaces between nerves and technical systems in neuroprosthetic devices. MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) technologies offer opportunities to develop high density arrays with large numbers of electrodes and smallest dimensions of electrode site area and pitch. Polymers are promising candidates for flexible substrates of these electrode arrays to meet the requirements of structural biocompatibility. In addition, these substrates must be biostable and should be non-toxic. From an engineering point of view, material processing should be feasible with standard MEMS process technology. Fail-safe integration of electronic circuitry, encapsulation of the systems with substrate-integrated electrodes and connection to cables and connectors is of great importance for reliable (micro-) implants.
A comprehensive overview of the application of polymers like silicone rubber, polyimide, and parylene C as substrate, insulation and encapsulation material for multielectrode arrays will be given. Assembling techniques for system integration and encapsulation concepts will be discussed with a special attention on the adhesion properties between substrate, interconnects and insulation and possible failure mechanisms. Application scenarios include peripheral nerve interfaces like cuff and sieve electrodes as well as multielectrode arrays for retinal vision prostheses and shaft and grid arrays for the central nervous system interfaces.
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