Nanoporous gold as a neural interface coating: Effects of topography, surface chemistry, and feature size

Christopher A R Chapman, Hao Chen, Marianna Stamou, Juergen Biener, Monika M. Biener, Pamela J Lein, Erkin Seker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Designing neural interfaces that maintain close physical coupling of neurons to an electrode surface remains a major challenge for both implantable and in vitro neural recording electrode arrays. Typically, low-impedance nanostructured electrode coatings rely on chemical cues from pharmaceuticals or surface-immobilized peptides to suppress glial scar tissue formation over the electrode surface (astrogliosis), which is an obstacle to reliable neuron-electrode coupling. Nanoporous gold (np-Au), produced by an alloy corrosion process, is a promising candidate to reduce astrogliosis solely through topography by taking advantage of its tunable length scale. In the present in vitro study on np-Au's interaction with cortical neuron-glia co-cultures, we demonstrate that the nanostructure of np-Au achieves close physical coupling of neurons by maintaining a high neuron-to-astrocyte surface coverage ratio. Atomic layer deposition-based surface modification was employed to decouple the effect of morphology from surface chemistry. Additionally, length scale effects were systematically studied by controlling the characteristic feature size of np-Au through variations in the dealloying conditions. Our results show that np-Au nanotopography, not surface chemistry, reduces astrocyte surface coverage while maintaining high neuronal coverage and may enhance neuron-electrode coupling through nanostructure-mediated suppression of scar tissue formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7093-7100
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 8 2015


  • Cell-material interaction
  • Gliosis
  • Multifunctional biomaterial
  • Nanoporous gold
  • Nanostructure
  • Nanotopography
  • Neural electrode
  • Neuron-astrocyte co-culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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