Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Carbon nanotube harpoon catches individual brain-cell signals

This image, taken with a scanning electron microscope, shows a new brain electrode that tapers to a point as thick as a single carbon nanotube.

Credit: Credit: Inho Yoon and Bruce Donald, Duke.
This image, taken with a scanning electron microscope, shows a new brain electrode that tapers to a point as thick as a single carbon nanotube.

Credit: Credit: Inho Yoon and Bruce Donald, Duke.

Abstract:
Neuroscientists may soon be modern-day harpooners, snaring individual brain-cell signals instead of whales with tiny spears made of carbon nanotubes.

Carbon nanotube harpoon catches individual brain-cell signals

Durham, NC | Posted on June 20th, 2013

The new brain cell spear is a millimeter long, only a few nanometers wide and harnesses the superior electromechanical properties of carbon nanotubes to capture electrical signals from individual neurons.

"To our knowledge, this is the first time scientists have used carbon nanotubes to record signals from individual neurons, what we call intracellular recordings, in brain slices or intact brains of vertebrates," said Bruce Donald, a professor of computer science and biochemistry at Duke University who helped developed the probe.

He and his collaborators describe the carbon nanotube probes June 19 in PLOS ONE.

"The results are a good proof of principle that carbon nanotubes could be used for studying signals from individual nerve cells," said Duke neurobiologist Richard Mooney, a study co-author. "If the technology continues to develop, it could be quite helpful for studying the brain."

Scientists want to study signals from individual neurons and their interactions with other brain cells to better understand the computational complexity of the brain.

Currently, they use two main types of electrodes, metal and glass, to record signals from brain cells. Metal electrodes record spikes from a population of brain cells and work well in live animals. Glass electrodes also measure spikes, as well as the computations individual cells perform, but are delicate and break easily.

"The new carbon nanotubes combine the best features of both metal and glass electrodes. They record well both inside and outside brain cells, and they are quite flexible. Because they won't shatter, scientists could use them to record signals from individual brain cells of live animals," said Duke neurobiologist Michael Platt, who was not involved in the study.

In the past, other scientists have experimented with carbon nanotube probes. But the electrodes were thick, causing tissue damage, or they were short, limiting how far they could penetrate into brain tissue. They could not probe inside individual neurons.

To change this, Donald began working on a harpoon-like carbon-nanotube probe with Duke neurobiologist Richard Mooney five years ago. The two met during their first year at Yale in the 1976, kept in touch throughout graduate school and began meeting to talk about their research after they both came to Duke.

Mooney told Donald about his work recording brain signals from live zebra finches and mice. The work was challenging, he said, because the probes and machinery to do the studies were large and bulky on the small head of a mouse or bird.

With Donald's expertise in nanotechnology and robotics and Mooney's in neurobiology, the two thought they could work together to shrink the machinery and improve the probes with nano-materials.

To make the probe, graduate student Inho Yoon and Duke physicist Gleb Finkelstein used the tip of an electrochemically sharpened tungsten wire as the base and extended it with self-entangled multi-wall carbon nanotubes to create a millimeter-long rod. The scientists then sharpened the nanotubes into a tiny harpoon using a focused ion beam at North Carolina State University.

Yoon then took the nano-harpoon to Mooney's lab and jabbed it into slices of mouse brain tissue and then into the brains of anesthetized mice. The results show that the probe transmits brain signals as well as, and sometimes better than, conventional glass electrodes and is less likely to break off in the tissue. The new probe also penetrates individual neurons, recording the signals of a single cell rather than the nearest population of them.

Based on the results, the team has applied for a patent on the nano-harpoon. Platt said scientists might use the probes in a range of applications, from basic science to human brain-computer interfaces and brain prostheses.

Donald said the new probe makes advances in those directions, but the insulation layers, electrical recording abilities and geometry of the device still need improvement.

###

This research was supported by the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, and grants from the National Institutes of Health (NS-79929, GM-65982, GM-78031).

Citation: "Intracellular neural recording with pure carbon nanotube probes." Yoon, I. et al. 2013. PLOS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065715

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Ashley Yeager

919-681-8057

Copyright © Duke University

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

News and information

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Reports Inducement Grants under NASDAQ Marketplace Rule 5635(c)(4) September 25th, 2018

Searching for errors in the quantum world September 21st, 2018

Viral RNA sensing: Optical detection of picomolar concentrations of RNA using switches in plasmonic chirality September 21st, 2018

UT engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors: Breakthrough for nanotechnology as UT engineers develop first method for switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors September 21st, 2018

Brain-Computer Interfaces

Graphene carpets: So neurons communicate better: Research by SISSA reveals that graphene can strengthen neuronal activity, confirming the unique properties of this nanomaterial. The study has been published on Nature Nanotechnology June 13th, 2018

Are We Quantum Computers? Led by UCSBís Matthew Fisher, an international collaboration of researchers will investigate the brainís potential for quantum computation March 27th, 2018

Letiís Chief Scientist Presents Optimistic Vision for Neuromorphic Hardware and Ultra-Low-Power Microdevices for Edge Computing at ISSCC: Letiís Chief Scientist Presents Optimistic Vision for Neuromorphic Hardware and Ultra-Low-Power Microdevices That Are Based on Novel Emerging February 13th, 2018

A firefly's flash inspires new nanolaser light July 18th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

UT engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors: Breakthrough for nanotechnology as UT engineers develop first method for switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors September 21st, 2018

Researchers develop microbubble scrubber to destroy dangerous biofilms September 19th, 2018

Researchers managed to prevent the disappearing of quantum information September 14th, 2018

New photonic chip promises more robust quantum computers September 14th, 2018

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes/Nanorods

Carbon nanodots do an ultrafine job with in vitro lung tissue: New experiments highlight the role of charge and size when it comes to carbon nanodots that mimic the effect of nanoscale pollution particles on the human lung. September 12th, 2018

Graphene nanotubes outperform ammonium salts and carbon black in PU applications September 11th, 2018

S, N co-doped carbon nanotube-encapsulated CoS2@Co: Efficient and stable catalysts for water splitting September 10th, 2018

Peering into private life of atomic clusters -- using the world's tiniest test tubes September 6th, 2018

Nanomedicine

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Reports Inducement Grants under NASDAQ Marketplace Rule 5635(c)(4) September 25th, 2018

Viral RNA sensing: Optical detection of picomolar concentrations of RNA using switches in plasmonic chirality September 21st, 2018

UT engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors: Breakthrough for nanotechnology as UT engineers develop first method for switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors September 21st, 2018

Nanobiotix: Update on Head and Neck Phase I/II Trial with NBTXR3 and Other program data presented at ImmunoRad 2018 September 20th, 2018

Discoveries

Searching for errors in the quantum world September 21st, 2018

Viral RNA sensing: Optical detection of picomolar concentrations of RNA using switches in plasmonic chirality September 21st, 2018

UT engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors: Breakthrough for nanotechnology as UT engineers develop first method for switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors September 21st, 2018

Silver nanoparticles are toxic for aquatic organisms: A research team at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has analysed how zebrafish are affected in the long term by exposure to silver particles September 19th, 2018

Announcements

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Reports Inducement Grants under NASDAQ Marketplace Rule 5635(c)(4) September 25th, 2018

Searching for errors in the quantum world September 21st, 2018

Viral RNA sensing: Optical detection of picomolar concentrations of RNA using switches in plasmonic chirality September 21st, 2018

UT engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors: Breakthrough for nanotechnology as UT engineers develop first method for switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors September 21st, 2018

Patents/IP/Tech Transfer/Licensing

Silvaco, Purdue team up to bring scalable atomistic TCAD solutions for next generation semiconductor devices and materials August 24th, 2018

CTI Materials drives nano commercialization with it's patented surfactant free nanoparticle dispersions August 15th, 2018

Sirrus's Issued Patent Portfolio Continues To Accelerate July 18th, 2018

Changing the grocery game: Manufacturing process provides low-cost, sustainable option for food packaging June 26th, 2018

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project