New Paradigms for Electronic Brain Science Tools Charles Lieber
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Abstract: Nanoscale materials enable unique opportunities at the interface between the physical and life sciences, for example, by integrating electronic devices with cells and/or tissue to make possible bidirectional communication at the length scales relevant to biological function. In this presentation, I will overview a new paradigm for seamlessly merging electronic arrays with the brain in three-dimensions (3D). First, the design consideration of matching structural, mechanical and topological characteristics of neural probes and brain tissue will be discussed, thus leading to the new concept of tissue-like mesh electronics. Second, quantitative time-dependent histology studies demonstrating the absence of a tissue immune response on at least a year time-scale, as well as interpenetration of neurons and neurofilaments through the open mesh electronics structures will be presented. Third, uniquely stable electrophysiology data demonstrating the capability to track and stably record from the same single neurons and neural circuits for more than a year will be described. Fourth, applications of this paradigm that open up potentially transformative capabilities, including (i) investigations of natural and pathological aging, (ii) exploiting inspiration from biology to create neuron-like electronics, and (iii) studies of the retina and visual system from the single neuron level upwards in awake animals. Finally, directions for future advances using our new concepts to overcome complex challenges in neuroscience through the development of precision electronic medicine in the brain will be discussed.