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Electrode FAQ.

If you have questions on Blackrock electrodes please first check below. Your question has not been listed here yet? Please feel free to get in touch with us.


General

What is the Utah Array?

The Utah Array is a microelectrode array developed and refined through decades of research to interface with the body’s electrical system. These devices are implanted in either the cortical surface of the brain or peripheral nerves and are connected to a data acquisition system to store the information.

I’m new. What do I need to buy to start with the Utah Arrays?

If starting from scratch there are three main components you’ll need: the array, a patient cable, and the data acquisition system. Blackrock offers a variety of options for each of these components that can be matched to your study goals. For information on which products work best for you, contact one of Blackrock’s technical consultants at sales@blackrockmicro.com.

In what areas of the brain can the Utah Array be implanted?

The Utah Array has a maximum depth of 1.5mm, specifically designed for implantation in the cortical surface and peripheral nerves.

Is the Utah Array suitable for the peripheral nervous system? If so, how?

Yes. The Utah Array has been successfully implanted in macaques, felines, rats and humans as a means to record from and stimulate peripheral nerves. It is implanted using the pneumatic inserter. For more information, visit our customer stories page.

What kind of signals can be obtained from the Utah Array?

The Utah Array can be used to capture both local field potentials (LFPs) as well as single unit action potentials.

Who uses the Utah Array and in what kind of studies?

Hundreds of users have employed the Utah Array in a variety of published studies. For some examples, check out our customer stories page.


Array

What duration can the Utah Array be implanted for?

Studies on array longevity have shown research arrays can effectively record for over a year after implantation and have lasted as long as 6 years. (Cite Barsee paper?)

Are the Utah Arrays FDA-cleared for market for use in research involving human patients?

Yes, the neuroport electrode is indicated for temporary (<30 days) recording and monitoring of brain electrical activity.

Can I stimulate through the arrays? If so, what do I need for this?

Yes! Arrays for stimulation should be ordered with the Iridium Oxide coating, which has superior electrical characteristics for stimulation studies.

Can I use the Utah Array with non-Blackrock data acquisition systems?

Yes, Blackrock offers a wide array of adapters to connect the array to a variety of DAQs. Customers who purchase Blackrock DAQ’s receive discounts on Utah Array purchases.

What are the various electrode lengths and in what types of studies do they typically get used?

The Utah Array electrodes have standard lengths of 0.5, 1.0, or 1.5mm. The Utah Slant Array offers a gradient of lengths between 0.75 and 1.5mm. Different lengths record from different layers of the cortex. Length should be chosen based on the experimental setup.

What is the maximum depth of electrode available?

For current array designs, the maximum depth is 1.5mm. For studies requiring electrodes longer than 1.5mm, contact us at sales@blackrockmicro.com.

What are the available wire bundle lengths and pitch of the electrodes?

The typical pitch of the electrodes is 400 μm, but can be custom ordered as 200μm. Wire bundle length is customizable, from 2cm to 13cm.

What is the difference between the Pt and IrOx coating?

Pt coating has been extensively studied as a chronic implantation material for recording studies (Impedance range 100-800 kΩ). Iridium Oxide (IrOx) has improved electrochemical characteristics, such as lower impedance and higher charge injection capacity (Impedance range 0-80 kΩ).

What stimulation voltages are required to elicit responses with IrOx Utah arrays?

Roughly 4-5 V are needed to stimulate. More information can be found here.

What is the recovery time for SIROF arays?

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Can you stimulate and record from the same electrode?

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What are the available configurations for the electrodes?

Typical electrodes are 4×4, 8×8 and 10×10 but configurations are customizable and can be tailored to meet specific needs.

What’s the shelf life of the Utah Arrays?

The validated shelf life for sterilized Blackrock products is 10 months.

Can I buy arrays with the reference wires integrated with the Arrays?

Yes, many groups are now purchasing the Utah Arrays with the reference wires integrated into the wire bundle and array, so there is no need to separately place the reference wires.

What are the prices for different arrays?

Prices are dependent upon connector type and configuration of the purchased array. Information on pricing can be found by contacting a Blackrock technical consultant at sales@blackrockmicro.com.


Connection

What connectors are recommended for various types of experimental models?

The CerePort connectors and variants are best used in chronic studies using larger animal models. Omnetics connectors are best suited for chronic studies in small animals. The ICS-96 is best suited for acute studies in small animals.

Where is the ground connection on Cereport/Neuroport arrays and Omnetics arrays?

On Cereport/Neuroport arrays, patient ground is the pedestal itself. There are no separate ground wires. For the Omnetics arrays, there are two separate ground wires.

What is the grade of titanium used for the pedestal? Also is there a machining finish type or precision requirement?

Titanium 6-4 is used for the pedestal body. There is no finish type specified, but tolerances are strictly regulated to ensure functionality finished product.


Procedure

What is the implantation procedure?

Device implantation follows four basic steps:
Preparation: Sterilize the device and ensure all components are correct
Prepare Subject: Induce the subject, place in stereotax, isolate the region of interest and perform craniotomy
Implantation: Remove the skin, fix the connector to the skull, remove dura flap and use the pneumatic inserter to place the device
Closure: Position the wire bundle, replacement of dura and skull flap, suture skin flap, wake subject

How do I learn more about the implantation techniques?

The implantation procedure can be a complicated process, but we offer a variety of resources to ensure success. First, check out our implantation section for an overview of the procedure. Next, download our surgical manual which details the step-by-step procedure for the entire surgical procedure. Finally, consider attending a Blackrock sponsored workshop. These workshops will help to guide you through the entire process, from purchase to publishing.

Why is there a need for a special inserter?

Research has shown pneumatic implantation is the most effective method to insert high density array without damaging the device or causing undue harm to the subject. High speed insertion prevents dimpling of the brain, preventing distortion at the implant site.

What are the dimensions of the inserter?

The inserter wand has a head diameter of 5.5mm, body diameter of 9.525mm and overall length of 23.5cm

What are reference wires and how are they inserted?

Reference wires are attached to the connector and placed on the cortical surface away from the implantation site. Typically, the reference wires are configured to extend ~8 mm beyond the edge of the array. The last 1-2 mm of the reference wire is de-insulated to provide a low-impedance reference signal suitable for recording.

How do I explant the array after the study is over?

Explant of the array after the study involves surgically excising the device from the implantation site.

What kind of testing do electrodes undergo before purchase?

As part of our manufacturing protocol-all arrays are inspected individually. We take photographs and record key measurements of electrode geometry, recording tip length, etc. As part of final testing all configurations of arrays are impedance tested in PBS / Saline. We have set guidelines for all outgoing array assemblies. Each device has to pass acceptance criteria and final QA inspection prior to shipping.

Are practice or dummy arrays available for purchase?

Non-functioning arrays can be purchased for practicing implantation procedures.

How to sterilize/clean the array?

Blackrock recommends using an ETO treatment to sterilize any arrays. More information on proper techniques can be found in the Research Assemblies IFU or by contacting us at support@blackrockmicro.com.

How to clean the array?

Start by placing the array in clean distilled water bath until ready for full cleaning procedure. Prepare a warm (30-35 C) solution of enzymatic cleaner (ENZOL) on a stir plate set to SLOW. Submerge the array in the solution for 15-60 minutes. Rinse the array, and re-submerge in warm distilled water for an additional 30 minutes before rinsing again. Using a microscope, check for any remaining debris. If debris is visible, remove it gently using a soft artist’s brush or clean distilled water in a syringe. Let the array dry at room temperature. Excess moisture can be wiped away using a kimwipe. More information on proper techniques can be found in (LINK TO CLEANING DOC AFTER VALIDATION) or by contacting us at support@blackrockmicro.com.

How to clean the LGA/Pedestal?

Depending on the severity of the residue, LGA/Pedestals can be cleaned with a variety of solvents. First, use a foam-tipped applicator dipped in DI water. Gently scrub the rim, threads and pin slots. Repeat this process twice using a new applicator each time. Finally, use a new, dry applicator to scrub the device and allow the device to dry for a minimum of five minutes. Inspect the device once dry. If residue remains, the process can be repeated using IPA instead of DI water. Following this procedure, if residue persists, a 3% Hydrogen Peroxide solution can be used instead of IPA.

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