Substantial advancement in the understanding of the neuronal basis of behavior and the treatment of neurological disorders has been achieved via the implantation of various devices into the brain. To design and optimize the next generation of neuronal implants while striving to minimize tissue damage, it is necessary to understand the mechanics of probe insertion at relevant length scales. Unfortunately, a broad-based understanding of brain-implant interactions at the necessary micrometer scales is largely missing. This paper presents a generalizable description of the micrometer-scale penetration mechanics and material properties of mouse brain tissue in vivo. Cylindrical stainless steel probes were inserted into the cerebral cortex and olfactory bulb of mice. The effects of probe size, probe geometry, insertion rate, insertion location, animal age, and the presence of the dura and pia on the resulting forces were measured continuously throughout probe insertion and removal. Material properties (modulus, cutting force, and frictional force) were extracted using mechanical analysis. The use of rigid, incompressible, cylindrical probes allows for a general understanding of how probe design and insertion methods influence the penetration mechanics of brain tissue in vivo that can be applied to the quantitative design of most future implantable devices.
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