Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Berkeley engineers build smallest volume, most efficient wireless nerve stimulator

11.04.2018

In 2016, University of California, Berkeley, engineers demonstrated the first implanted, ultrasonic neural dust sensors, bringing closer the day when a Fitbit-like device could monitor internal nerves, muscles or organs in real time. Now, Berkeley engineers have taken neural dust a step forward by building the smallest volume, most efficient wireless nerve stimulator to date.

The device, called StimDust, short for stimulating neural dust, adds more sophisticated electronics to neural dust without sacrificing the technology's tiny size or safety, greatly expanding the range of neural dust applications.


The small size of StimDust can be seen in comparison to a dime.

Credit: Rikky Muller


This graphic details the simplicity of the StimDust design. The components of StimDust include a single piezocrystal, which is the antenna of the system, a 1-millimeter integrated circuit and one charge storage capacitor.

Credit: Courtesy of Rikky Muller

The researchers' goal is to have StimDust implanted in the body through minimally invasive procedures to monitor and treat disease in a real-time, patient-specific approach. StimDust is just 6.5 cubic millimeters in volume and is powered wirelessly by ultrasound, which the device then uses to power nerve stimulation at an efficiency of 82 percent.

"StimDust is the smallest deep-tissue stimulator that we are aware of that's capable of stimulating almost all of the major therapeutic targets in the peripheral nervous system," said Rikky Muller, co-lead of the work and assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at Berkeley.

"This device represents our vision of having tiny devices that can be implanted in minimally invasive ways to modulate or stimulate the peripheral nervous system, which has been shown to be efficacious in treating a number of diseases."

The research will be presented April 10 at the IEEE Custom Integrated Circuits Conference in San Diego. The research team was co-led by one of neural dust's inventors, Michel Maharbiz, a professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at Berkeley.

The creation of neural dust at Berkeley, led by Maharbiz and Jose Carmena, a Berkeley professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences and a member of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, has opened the door for wireless communication to the brain and peripheral nervous system through tiny implantable devices inside the body that are powered by ultrasound. Engineering teams around the world are now using the neural dust platform to build devices that can be charged wirelessly by ultrasound.

Maharbiz came up with the idea to use ultrasound for powering and communicating with very small implants. Together with Berkeley professors Elad Alon and Jan Rabaey, the group then developed the technical framework to demonstrate the scaling power of ultrasound for implantable devices.

Early engineering work by D.J. Seo, a Berkeley Ph.D. student who was co-advised by Alon and Maharbiz, followed by experimental validations by Ryan Neely, another Berkeley Ph.D. student, advised by Carmena, set the foundations of the neural dust vision. In the years since neural dust's invention, ultrasound has proven to be among the most promising technologies for powering and communicating implantable devices.

Muller came to Berkeley in 2016 and has been a key driver of neural dust innovation. Her research group specializes in bidirectional electronic interfaces with human body, specifically in the brain and peripheral nervous system. Her team has been working on ways to use the power that can be transmitted to neural dust. In StimDust, her lab has taken the neural dust platform and built a more effective stimulator that can wrap around a nerve cuff and can also record, transmit and receive data. They did this by designing a custom integrated circuit to transfer ultrasound charge to the nerve in a well-controlled, safe and efficient way.

StimDust is about an order of magnitude smaller than any active device with similar capabilities that the research team is aware of. The components of StimDust include a single piezocrystal, which is the antenna of the system, a 1-millimeter integrated circuit and one charge storage capacitor. StimDust has electrodes on the bottom, which make contact with a nerve through a cuff that wraps around the nerve. In addition to the device, Muller's team designed a custom wireless protocol that gives them a large range of programmability while maintaining efficiency. The entire device is powered by just 4 microwatts and has a mass of 10 milligrams.

After testing StimDust on the benchtop, the research team implanted it in a live rodent to test it in a realistic environment. Through a cuff around the sciatic nerve, the research team was able to control hind leg motion, record the stimulation activity and measure how much force was exerted on the hind leg muscle as it was stimulated. The researchers then gradually increased stimulation and mapped the response of the hind leg muscle so they could know exactly how much stimulation was needed for a desired muscle recruitment, a kind of sophisticated analysis required of medical devices.

Muller hopes that her work can lead to applications of StimDust to treat diseases such as heart irregularities, chronic pain, asthma or epilepsy.

"One of the big visions of my group is to create these very efficient bidirectional interfaces with the nervous system and couple that with intelligence to really understand the signals of disease and then to be able to treat disease in an intelligent, methodical way," Muller said. There's an incredible opportunity for healthcare applications that can really be transformative."

Brett Israel | EurekAlert!

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Intelligent components for the power grid of the future
18.04.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Real-time layer thickness measurement with terahertz
17.04.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

Im Focus: The Future of Ultrafast Solid-State Physics

In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.

Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...

Im Focus: Stronger evidence for a weaker Atlantic overturning

The Atlantic overturning – one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards – is weaker today than any time before in more than 1000 years. Sea surface temperature data analysis provides new evidence that this major ocean circulation has slowed down by roughly 15 percent since the middle of the 20th century, according to a study published in the highly renowned journal Nature by an international team of scientists. Human-made climate change is a prime suspect for these worrying observations.

“We detected a specific pattern of ocean cooling south of Greenland and unusual warming off the US coast – which is highly characteristic for a slowdown of the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New capabilities at NSLS-II set to advance materials science

18.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

Strong carbon fiber artificial muscles can lift 12,600 times their own weight

18.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

Polymer-graphene nanocarpets to electrify smart fabrics

18.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>