Neurotransmitters and neuromodulators mediate communication between neurons and other cell types; knowledge of release dynamics is critical to understanding their physiological role in normal and pathological brain function. Investigation into transient neurotransmitter dynamics has largely been hindered due to electrical and material requirements for electrochemical stimulation and recording. Current systems require complex electronics for biasing and amplification and rely on materials that offer limited sensor selectivity and sensitivity. These restrictions result in bulky, tethered, or battery-powered systems impacting behavior and that require constant care of subjects. To overcome these challenges, we demonstrate a fully implantable, wireless, and battery-free platform that enables optogenetic stimulation and electrochemical recording of catecholamine dynamics in real time. The device is nearly 1/10th the size of previously reported examples and includes a probe that relies on a multilayer electrode architecture featuring a microscale light emitting diode (μ-LED) and a carbon nanotube (CNT)-based sensor with sensitivities among the highest recorded in the literature (1264.1 nA μM-1 cm-2). High sensitivity of the probe combined with a center tapped antenna design enables the realization of miniaturized, low power circuits suitable for subdermal implantation even in small animal models such as mice. A series of in vitro and in vivo experiments highlight the sensitivity and selectivity of the platform and demonstrate its capabilities in freely moving, untethered subjects. Specifically, a demonstration of changes in dopamine concentration after optogenetic stimulation of the nucleus accumbens and real-time readout of dopamine levels after opioid and naloxone exposure in freely behaving subjects highlight the experimental paradigms enabled by the platform.
- carbon nanotubes