MRS Bulletin

Materials for Neural Interfaces

Materials for Neural Interfaces

Extracellular matrix-based materials for neural interfacing

Shuodan Chena1 and Mark G. Allena2

a1 Georgia Institute of Technology;

a2 School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology;


Extracellular matrix (ECM)-based materials used for neural interfaces allow for prolonged effective interaction between foreign devices and the neural cells in vivo because they mimic the natural environment. This review will highlight studies that have demonstrated how ECM-based materials can benefit neural interfacing applications as neural electrode coatings, scaffolds, and nanoparticle (NP) coatings. The performance of neural electrodes can degrade from inflammatory response as indicated by the signal obstruction between neurons and electrodes from glial scar formation during prolonged implantation. ECM materials can mitigate an inflammatory response because they are naturally biocompatible and biodegradable. Scaffolds composed from ECM-based materials have the characteristic length scale and biochemical cues that promote directional neural cell growth. ECM-based scaffolds can also be utilized as drug delivery vessels to infuse the neural tissue with neural growth factors and anti-inflammatory cytokines. The NPs currently employed for drug delivery and imaging use various ECM-based coating materials that shield them from the neural cells because many types of NPs are cytotoxic. As demonstrated by these three neural interfacing applications, ECM-based materials are very promising candidates for the development of next-generation neural regeneration and therapeutic devices.

(Online publication June 08 2012)