Optical Simulation Of Nerve Fibers Using Laser

A laser-based system that allows optical simulation of individual nerve fibers in living mice has been developed by researchers. They have demonstrated that the nervous system directly influences the immune system through this process.

A new method has shed more light on the brain in the last ten years: optogenetics allows scientists to stimulate genetically-modified nerve cells and investigate their functioning within the complex network inside the skull. This technique represents a revolution in neuroscience, but it can only be used to study the central nervous system, not the peripheral nervous system, at the moment.

The optical simulation system connects implantable LEDs to a tiny device on the subject’s head that can be controlled via Bluetooth from a tablet. The researchers precisely stimulated nerve fibers in the bodies of freely moving mice. The integrated platform, which includes the chip, battery, and antenna for wireless signal transmission, weighs less than one gram and takes up less than one cubic centimeter of space.

While chip technology allows for high integration density of electronic circuits, there are limits to miniaturization, especially with batteries; the smaller the volume, the higher the energy density. As a result, the risk of batteries igniting increases.

The team originally intended to create this platform for a project that would measure oxygen saturation and blood pressure.

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