Studying the brain with micro-injectable LEDs

Professor John A. Rodgers has previously taught us what the future has in store by way of flexible, stampable microelectronics that adhere to the surface of human skin. As revolutionary as those devices can be – providing critical health-related information from real-time physiological monitoring of the human body – they are limited in their ability to penetrate the depth of human tissue for an even greater understanding. A recent study by Rodgers and his team from UIUC alongside Professor Michael R. Bruch as of Washington University has found a unique solution to the tissue issue – injectable LEDs that can stimulate and monitor brain activity.
The research is founded on the basis of op to genetics – using optics and genetics to purposely control specific areas of the brain, including individual neurons, to actively analyze brain functions and associative behavior. Studies that involve electrical or chemical stimulation of neurons are not as effective due to their tendency to affect large portions of the brain.
Studying the brain with micro-injectable LEDs
This new technology, however, utilizes a platform of LEDs, temperature and light sensors, micro-sized heaters, and electrodes for stimulating and recording electrical activity in the brain with minimal stress on surrounding tissue. The devices are printed onto the tip of an extremely thin plastic ribbon that is injected into the brain via a microinjection needle.

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