108. electro-optrical mechanically flexible (eo-flex) nanoprobes

Department: Electrical & Computer Engineering
Faculty Advisor(s): Sadik C. Esener | Donald J. Sirbuly

Primary Student
Name: Spencer Patrick Ward
Email: spward@ucsd.edu
Phone: 510-965-7014
Grad Year: 2019

Student Collaborators
Conor Riley, criley@ucsd.edu

The EO-FLEX project aims to develop minimally invasive nanoprobes enabling electro-optical interfacing of intrinsic neural circuits. EO-FLEX probes will offer a unique combination of millimeter lengths and sub-micron widths, which preserve flexibility for tissue conformation and minimize inflammatory response. The team is nano-engineering the EO-FLEX probes to route signals in both optical and electrical modalities over distances in excess of 2 mm for long-term, minimally-invasive access to difficult to reach peripheral nerve structures. EO-FLEX probes utilize an optically-transparent SnO2 nanofiber core [1]. Program efforts to date have centered on obtaining low-loss optical coupling to nanofibers and engineering high conductivity coatings to reduce electrical impedance. Due to their sub-micron cross-sections, evanescent coupling is preferred for interfacing fiber light sources. Figure 1 (left) is a snapshot of coupling a nanofiber to a fiber taper. Replacement of fiber tapers with side-polished fibers is under development to promote assembly strength. Sputtered gold coatings with minimal thickness meet the electrical resistivity targets for the probes, see Figure 1 (top right). Atomic-layer deposition of less conductive materials is under consideration for more conformal coatings (bottom right). Ultimately, the effectiveness of EO-FLEX nanoprobes for optogenetics and electrophysiology will be verified in the sciatic nerves of transgenic mice.

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

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