Fabrication of flexible microelectrode arrays used for brain machine interfaces

Methods of electrical recording have an important role in the readout of brain activity due to their unparalleled temporal resolution. While this task was originally performed via stiff electrode wires or shanks that do not have any biocompatibility, the more recent tools are aiming to achieve less invasiveness and more biocompatibility.

In congruence with this trend, we are fabricating soft and flexible microelectrocorticography arrays to be used in projects for both studying the function of superficial layers of mammalian neocortex and for the development of more advanced brain-machine interfaces. Building upon our past experience and preliminary results, we are aiming reliable recordings of single-unit activity of neurons from the mammalian brain surface with our devices in vivo.

In parallel to the fabrication efforts and physical characterization, we will test the devices during acute experiments and chronic implantations on rat and mice brains to assess the signal quality. This way, the student will have the opportunity to observe rodent brain surgeries and the use of devices in vivo.

Building upon our current fabrication protocols and experience with electrophysiology recordings from brain surface, the goal of this project is to achieve an optimized protocol for reliable production of recording devices that would have least defects and yield the best recording quality possible. Furthermore, we would like to have a thorough characterization of the devices in terms of multiple aspects such as mechanical properties, properties of the electrode-tissue interaction and in vivo signal quality. If time allows, we may also go in the direction of optimizing the devices for electrical stimulation.

Requirements

- Background in physics OR mechanical engineering OR physical chemistry OR electrical engineering;
- Basic experience in cleanroom or knowledge of MEMS techniques; (If you have a strong background in physical sciences and very enthusiastic about working on brain-machine interfaces but lacking cleanroom experience, feel free to contact anyways and we can discuss.)
- Enthusiasm for developing tools to be used in neuroscience.
- As the project will most likely require taking the introduction course for access to FIRST lab as well as the introductions for individual equipments to be used, we are particularly looking for a student that will be working with us at least for 6 months--ideally full-time for Master Thesis.

Contact

Baran Yasar, yasart at ethz dot ch. If interested, please drop an e-mail with your CV and/or a short description of your background and interest in the project, and we can set up a time to meet.

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