Akram S. Sadek, a Caltech graduate student in the Computation & Neural Systems program, has an article in Nanowerk describing his research team’s work in developing a method to connect thousands of neural nanosensors to each other and to an outside controller. The problem is that by using conventional wiring methods to link large numbers of very small components, the size of the wiring itself grows out of control. The approach introduced by Sadek’s team involves using nanoscale piezoelectronics to convert electrical sensor signals into optical ones, which then can be fed into one optical output.
A piezoelectric NEMS device could be fabricated beneath every microelectrode to transduce the signal. In the core of the probe, a silicon waveguide could be engineered to transmit laser light generated externally and to transmit the reflected signals from each NEMS device, all along the same waveguide. This could potentially increase the number of electrodes that can be packed from 100 to the tens of thousands, and could also reduce the cross-section of the probe, minimizing tissue damage. Such a system would be a highly important tool in neuroscience and for neuroprosthetics in medicine.
In our work, we have coupled one of our devices to an extracellular microelectrode and demonstrated that our system is sensitive enough to transduce neuronal action potentials from neurons. This is the first time NEMS have been used for neural recording.
Read on at Nanowerk: Using piezoelectronics to wire thousands of neural nanosensors into a single optical output…
Relevant abstract in NANO Letters: Wiring Nanoscale Biosensors with Piezoelectric Nanomechanical Resonators