National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

Serving Nanoscale Science, Engineering & Technology

NNIN Special Workshop: Nanotechnology as an Enabler for Neuroscience, Neuroengineering and Neural Prostheses (Nano for N3)

NNIN Special Workshop: Nanotechnology as an Enabler for Neuroscience, Neuroengineering and Neural Prostheses (Nano for N3)

Stanford University

Dec. 11-12, 2008

Workshop organizers - Professor Krishna Shenoy and Professor Yoshio Nishi

Goals of the workshop

Neural prostheses aim to help improve the quality of life for patients suffering from neurological disease and injury. They function by translating electrical signals from the brain (e.g., action potentials, local field potentials, ECoGs,EEGs) into control signals for guiding assistive devices. Despite considerable progress in recent years, the field actively continues to pursue

  • increased sensor lifetime and
  • increased system performance so that the anticipated quality-of-life improvements will clearly outweigh potential surgical risks.

Despite ongoing efforts in recent years, neither sensor lifetime nor system performance have grown at a rate necessary to dramatically enable the widespread clinical translation of these systems. MEMS-based electrode arrays have had functional lifetimes of approximately one year without substantial improvement. While flexible substrate and pharmacological agent delivery through micro-fluidic channels appears promising, there is considerable interest in understanding what nano-structured electrical and/or optical sensors which reside at the size scale of neurons (< 1 um) may enable. Similarly, system performance relies on massively parallel measurement of neural signals and MEMS based measurement has remained at roughly 100-200 neurons for the past decade. There is considerable interest in understanding what massively parallel, nano-structured electrical and/or optical sensors ­ which could provide both the high-density measurements within one brain/neural area, and measurement from multiple brain areas separated by many centimeters ­ may provide.  Advances in both of these areas are crucial for the sustained advancement of both basic systems neuroscience ­ which aims to provide fundamental scientific understanding of complex nervous systems, and may generate biologically-inspired computational principles for next generation electronic computational architectures - as well as more applied neuroengineering, which aims to build core technology.

The major goals of the workshop are:

  • To build bridges and promote collaborations between the neuroscience, neuroengineering, neural prosthesis and nanotechnology/sensor communities.
  • To identify limitations in current neural-measurement technologies and critical needs for basic neuroscience, neuroengineering, and clinical neural prostheses.
  • To identify potential solutions to these needs based on recent progress in nano- and micro-technology.
  • To identify how NNIN can best leverage its tools, user base and staff expertise to enable these goals.

Agenda and Presenations are hosted at the Stanford site and are avaialable here.