Home Medizin Neues Gehirnimplantat zeichnet die Neuronenaktivität über Monate hinweg auf

Neues Gehirnimplantat zeichnet die Neuronenaktivität über Monate hinweg auf

von NFI Redaktion

The recording of the activity of large populations of individual neurons in the brain over extended periods is crucial for enhancing our understanding of neuronal circuits, enabling novel therapies based on medical devices, and enabling high-resolution electrophysiological information for brain-computer interfaces in the future.

However, there is currently a compromise between the amount of high-resolution information that an implanted device can measure and the duration of recording or stimulation power. Rigid silicon implants with many sensors can collect a lot of information but cannot stay in the body for long. Flexible, smaller devices are less invasive and can remain in the brain for longer, but they provide only a fraction of the available neural information.

Recently, an interdisciplinary research team from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), in collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin, MIT, and Axoft, Inc., developed a soft implantable device with dozens of sensors capable of stably recording the activity of individual neurons in the brain over months.

The research was published in Nature Nanotechnology.

„We have developed brain-electronic interfaces with single-cell resolution that are more biocompatible than conventional materials. This work has the potential to revolutionize the design of bioelectronics for neuronal recording and stimulation, as well as for brain-computer interfaces.“

Paul Le Floch, lead author of the study and former doctoral student in the laboratory of Jia Liu, assistant professor of bioengineering at SEAS

Le Floch is currently the CEO of Axoft, Inc., a company founded in 2021 by Le Floch, Liu, and Tianyang Ye, a former doctoral and postdoctoral student of the Park Group at Harvard. The Harvard Office of Technology Development has protected the intellectual property associated with this research and has licensed the technology to Axoft for further development.

To overcome the compromise between high-resolution data rates and longevity, the researchers turned to a group of materials known as fluorinated elastomers. Fluorinated materials such as Teflon are resilient, stable in biological fluids, have excellent dielectric long-term performance, and are compatible with standard microfabrication techniques.

The researchers integrated these fluorinated dielectric elastomers with stacks of soft microelectrodes—64 sensors in total—to develop a long-lasting probe that is 10,000 times softer than conventional flexible probes made of engineering plastics such as polyimide or parylene C.

The team demonstrated the device in vivo, recording neuronal information from the brains and spinal cords of mice over several months.

„Our research shows that through careful development of different factors, it is possible to develop novel elastomers for long-term stable neural interfaces,“ said Liu, corresponding author of the article. „This study could expand the range of design possibilities for neural interfaces.“

The interdisciplinary research team also included SEAS professors Katia Bertoldi, Boris Kozinsky, and Zhigang Suo.

„Designing new neural probes and interfaces is a highly interdisciplinary problem that requires expertise in biology, electrical engineering, materials science, mechanical engineering, and chemical engineering,“ said Le Floch.

The research was jointly authored by Siyuan Zhao, Ren Liu, Nicola Molinari, Eder Medina, Hao Shen, Zheliang Wang, Junsoo Kim, Hao Sheng, Sebastian Partarrieu, Wenbo Wang, Chanan Sessler, Guogao Zhang, Hyunsu Park, Xian Gong, Andrew Spencer, Jongha Lee, Tianyang Ye, Xin Tang, Xiao Wang, and Nanshu Lu.

The work was supported by the National Science Foundation under Harvard University Materials Research Science and Engineering Center grant No. DMR-2011754.


Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Journal reference:

Le Floch, P., et al. (2023). 3D spatially and temporally scalable in vivo neuronal probes based on fluorinated elastomers. Nature Nanotechnology. doi.org/10.1038/s41565-023-01545-6.

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