Department: NanoEngineering
Faculty Advisor(s): Sadik C. Esener | Donald J. Sirbuly

Primary Student
Name: Spencer Patrick Ward
Email: spward@ucsd.edu
Phone: 858-822-4143
Grad Year: 2019

The field of neuroscience has seen a rapid increase in the different technologies available for researchers to better understand the structure and function of the brain. While microfabrication has helped spearhead these areas, the drawback with most current techniques is their relatively large size which can damage tissue and induce an immune response. This immune response will result in compromised performance of the device as well as damaging the surrounding tissue, especially in the central nervous system where the majority of our work is focused. We're working on utilizing the properties of nanomaterials such as tin oxide nanofibers waveguides to reduce the immune response while also allowing for the measurement and stimulation of neurons. Tin oxide nanophotonic waveguides are synthesized by a chemical vapor transport (CVT) which forms nanoribbons with diameters as small as 200 nm. These nanoribbons have many advantageous properties for application in minimally invasive neural probes: a high aspect ratio (>1000, length to diameter), a high refractive index (2.1), flexibility, and allow for surface functionalization. Integration of these nanowires into larger systems is achieved by tapering multimode and single mode silica fibers to couple a laser source to the waveguides, which re-emit light at the tip of the nanofiber. In collaboration with biologists, these nanophotonic devices have undergone initial testing with the ongoing work in optogenetics. These novel nanodevices have the ability to provide the measurement flexibility required by neuroscientists to navigate the unknown frontier of the mind.

Industry Application Area(s)
Electronics/Photonics | Life Sciences/Medical Devices & Instruments | Materials

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