We have already reported a method for fabricating ultra-microelectrodes (Suzuki, K. JP Patent, 2004-45394, 2004). This method is based on the selective chemical etching of optical fibers. In this work, we undertake a detailed investigation involving a combination of etched optical fibers with various types of tapered tip (protruding-shape, double- (or pencil-) shape and triple-tapered electrode) and insulation with electrophoretic paint. Our goal is to establish a method for fabricating nanometer-sized optical fiber electrodes with high reproducibility. As a result, we realized pencil-shaped and triple-tapered electrodes that had radii in the nanometer range with high reproducibility. These nanometer-sized electrodes showed well-defined sigmoidal curves and stable diffusion-limited responses with cyclic voltammetry. The pencil-shaped optical fiber, which has a conical tip with a cone angle of 20°, was effective for controlling the electrode radius. The pencil-shaped electrodes had higher reproducibility and smaller electrode radii (r app < 1.0 nm) than those of other etched optical fiber electrodes. By using a pencil-shaped electrode with a 105-nm radius as a probe, we obtained simultaneous electrochemical and optical images of an implantable interdigitated array electrode. We achieved nanometer-scale resolution with a combination of scanning electrochemical microscopy SECM and optical microscopy. The resolution of the electrochemical and optical images indicated sizes of 300 and 930 nm, respectively. The neurites of living PC12 cells were also successfully imaged on a 1.6-μm scale by using the negative feedback mode of an SECM.
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