Optimizing the fabrication of a 3D high-resolution implant for neural stimulation

Gal Shpun, Nairouz Farah, Yoav Chemla, Amos Markus, Tamar Azrad Leibovitch, Erel Lasnoy, Doron Gerber, Zeev Zalevsky, Yossi Mandel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Tissue-integrated micro-electronic devices for neural stimulation hold great potential in restoring the functionality of degenerated organs, specifically, retinal prostheses, which are aimed at vision restoration. The fabrication process of 3D polymer-metal devices with high resolution and a high aspect-ratio (AR) is very complex and faces many challenges that impair its functionality. Approach: Here we describe the optimization of the fabrication process of a bio-functionalized 3D high-resolution 1mm circular subretinal implant composed of SU-8 polymer integrated with dense gold microelectrodes (23μm pitch) passivated with 3D micro-well-like structures (20μm diameter, 3μm resolution). The main challenges were overcome by step-by-step planning and optimization while utilizing a two-step bi-layer lift-off process; bio-functionalization was carried out by N2 plasma treatment and the addition of a bio-adhesion molecule. Main results: In-vitro and in-vivo investigations, including SEM and FIB cross section examinations, revealed a good structural design, as well as a good long-term integration of the device in the rat sub-retinal space and cell migration into the wells. Moreover, the feasibility of subretinal neural stimulation using the fabricated device was demonstrated in-vitro by electrical activation of rat’s retina. Conclusions: The reported process and optimization steps described here in detail can aid in designing and fabricating retinal prosthetic devices or similar neural implants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number55
JournalJournal of Biological Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, BioMed Central Ltd., part of Springer Nature.


  • Bio-MEMS
  • Electrical Neuro-stimulation
  • Implantable devices
  • Neural interfaces
  • Retinal prostheses
  • SU-8 Photolithography


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