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In a world first, U.S. and Chinese scientists have developed a method to inject microelectronic devices such as wires and transistors directly into the brain (or other body parts) to measure or stimulate neural activity. The new method could lead to sophisticated new ways to treat conditions ranging from neurodegenerative disorders to paralysis.
Developed by researchers in Charles Lieber’s lab at Harvard University and the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology in Beijing, the invention is based on a simple but radical concept: injecting a biocompatible polymer scaffold mesh with attached microelectronic devices into the brain via syringe.
The process for fabricating the scaffold is similar to that used to etch microchips, and begins with a dissolvable layer deposited on a biocompatible nanoscale polymer mesh substrate, with embedded nanowires, transistors, and other microelectronic devices attached. The mesh is then tightly rolled up, allowing it to be sucked up into a syringe via a thin glass needle. The mesh can then be injected into brain (or other) tissue by the syringe.