Nanotechnology Now





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > First direct electric link between neurons and light-sensitive nanoparticle films created

Abstract:
The world's first direct electrical link between nerve cells and photovoltaic nanoparticle films has been achieved by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) and the University of Michigan. The development opens the door to applying the unique properties of nanoparticles to a wide variety of light-stimulated nerve-signaling devices — including the possible development of a nanoparticle-based artificial retina.

First direct electric link between neurons and light-sensitive nanoparticle films created

GALVESTON, TX | Posted on February 27th, 2007

Nanoparticles are artificially created bits of matter not much bigger than individual atoms. Their behavior is controlled by the same forces that shape molecules; they also exhibit the bizarre effects associated with quantum mechanics. Scientists can exploit these characteristics to custom-build new materials "from the bottom up" with characteristics such as compatibility with living cells and the ability to turn light into tiny electrical currents that can produce responses in nerves.

That's what the UTMB and Michigan researchers did, using a process devised by Michigan chemical engineering professor Nicholas Kotov, one of the authors of a paper on the research appearing in the current issue of Nano Letters. The process starts with a glass plate and then builds a layer-by-layer sandwich of two kinds of ultra-thin films, one made of mercury-tellurium nanoparticles and another of a positively charged polymer called PDDA. The scientists then added a layer of ordinary clay and a cell-friendly coating of amino acid, and placed cultured neurons on the very top.

When light shines on them, the mercury-tellurium nanoparticle film layers produce electrons, which then move up into the PDDA film layers and produce an upward-moving electrical current. "As you build up the layers of this, you get better capabilities to absorb photons and generate voltage," said UTMB research scientist Todd Pappas, lead author on the Nano Letters paper. "When the current reaches the neuron membrane, it depolarizes the cell to the point where it fires, and you get a signal in the nerve."

Although light signals have previously been transmitted to nerve cells using silicon (whose ability to turn light into electricity is employed in solar cells and in the imaging sensors of video cameras), nanoengineered materials promise far greater efficiency and versatility.

"It should be possible for us to tune the electrical characteristics of these nanoparticle films to get properties like color sensitivity and differential stimulation, the sort of things you want if you're trying to make an artificial retina, which is one of the ultimate goals of this project," Pappas said. "You can't do that with silicon. Plus, silicon is a bulk material — silicon devices are much less size-compatible with cells."

The researchers caution that despite the great potential of a light-sensitive nanoparticle-neuron interface, creating an actual implantable artificial retina is a long-range project. But they're equally hopeful about a variety of other, less complex applications made possible by a tiny, versatile light-activated interface with nerve cells — such things as new ways to connect with artificial limbs and other prostheses, and revolutionary new tools for imaging, diagnosis and therapy.

"The beauty of this achievement is that these materials can be remotely activated without having to use wires to connect them. All you have to do is deliver light to the material," said Professor Massoud Motamedi, director of UTMB's Center for Biomedical Engineering and a co-author of the paper. "This type of technology has the ability to provide non-invasive connections between the human nervous system and prostheses and instruments that are unprecedented in their flexibility, compactness and reliability," Motamedi continued. "I feel that such nanotools are going to give the fields of medicine and biology brand-new capabilities that it's hard to even imagine now."

Other authors of the paper include University of Michigan graduate students W.M. Shan Wickramanayake and Edward Jan, as well as UTMB neuroscience and cell biology professor Malcolm Brodwick. The National Science Foundation provided funding for this research.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Jim Kelly

409-772-8791

Copyright © University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Nanomedicine

New Antibacterial Wound Dressing in Iran Can Display Replacement Time May 22nd, 2015

Researchers develop new way to manufacture nanofibers May 21st, 2015

Effective Nano-Micelles Designed in Iran to Treat Cancer May 20th, 2015

Nature inspires first artificial molecular pump: Simple design mimics pumping mechanism of life-sustaining proteins found in living cells May 19th, 2015

Discoveries

Basel physicists develop efficient method of signal transmission from nanocomponents May 23rd, 2015

This Slinky lookalike 'hyperlens' helps us see tiny objects: The photonics advancement could improve early cancer detection, nanoelectronics manufacturing and scientists' ability to observe single molecules May 23rd, 2015

Visualizing How Radiation Bombardment Boosts Superconductivity: Atomic-level flyovers show how impact sites of high-energy ions pin potentially disruptive vortices to keep high-current superconductivity flowing May 23rd, 2015

Conversion of Greenhouse Gases to Syngas in Presence of Nanocatalysts in Iran May 22nd, 2015

Announcements

Basel physicists develop efficient method of signal transmission from nanocomponents May 23rd, 2015

This Slinky lookalike 'hyperlens' helps us see tiny objects: The photonics advancement could improve early cancer detection, nanoelectronics manufacturing and scientists' ability to observe single molecules May 23rd, 2015

Visualizing How Radiation Bombardment Boosts Superconductivity: Atomic-level flyovers show how impact sites of high-energy ions pin potentially disruptive vortices to keep high-current superconductivity flowing May 23rd, 2015

New Antibacterial Wound Dressing in Iran Can Display Replacement Time May 22nd, 2015

Human Interest/Art

INSIDDE: Uncovering the real history of art using a graphene scanner May 21st, 2015

Winner Announced for NNI’s First ‘EnvisioNano’ Nanotechnology Image Contest May 6th, 2015

To Conserve London's 300-Year-Old Masterpiece, Nanotech & Drones April 12th, 2015

2015 Nanonics Image Contest January 29th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project