Scalable Fabrication Framework of Implantable Ultrathin and Flexible Probes with Biodegradable Sacrificial Layers

Xiangbing Jiao, Yuan Wang, Quan Qing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


For long-term biocompatibility and performance, implanted probes need to further reduce their size and mechanical stiffness to match that of the surrounding cells, which, however, makes accurate and minimally invasive insertion operations difficult due to lack of rigidity and brings additional complications in assembling and surgery. Here, we report a scalable fabrication framework of implantable probes utilizing biodegradable sacrificial layers to address this challenge. Briefly, the integrated biodegradable sacrificial layer can dissolve in physiological fluids shortly after implantation, which allows the in situ formation of functional ultrathin film structures off of the initial small and rigid supporting backbone. We show that the dissolution of this layer does not affect the viability and excitability of neuron cells in vitro. We have demonstrated two types of probes that can be used out of the box, including (1) a compact probe that spontaneously forms three-dimensional bend-up devices only after implantation and (2) an ultraflexible probe as thin as 2 μm attached to a small silicon shaft that can be accurately delivered into the tissue and then get fully released in situ without altering its shape and position because the support is fully retracted. We have obtained a >93% yield of the bend-up structure, and its geometry and stiffness can be systematically tuned. The robustness of the ultraflexible probe has been tested in tissue-mimicking agarose gels with <1% fluctuation in the test resistance. Our work provides a general strategy to prepare ultrasmall and flexible implantable probes that allow high insertion accuracy and minimal surgical damages with the best biocompatibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7315-7322
Number of pages8
JournalNano Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 13 2017


  • Implantable bioprobes
  • biocompatibility
  • biodegradable
  • flexible ultrathin electrodes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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