SBIR Phase I: Wireless Instrumentation for Preclinical Research on Small Freely Behaving Animals

Period of Performance: 01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Bionic Sciences, Inc.
85 Fifth St NW, TSRB419
Atlanta, GA 30308
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


The innovation in this project involves design and develop of a fully functional prototype of a bioinstrument, called "EnerCage," a wireless power (50mW) and data (1Mbps) transmission system that can support bidirectional communication with electronic devices that are attached to or implanted in small, freely behaving animal subjects. The floor of the EnerCage consists of a modular array of overlapping hexagonal-planar spiral coils (hex-PSCs) with optimized geometries, capable of forming an experimental arena of arbitrary size and shape. The hex-PSCs provide a focused magnetic field around the subject for wireless power delivery regardless of its position in the cage. Power amplifiers driving the hex-PSC array are equipped with a closed-loop power control mechanism that compensates for animal movement and parasitic effects on the coils. On the receiver side, a mobile unit equipped with efficient power management circuitry delivers power and data to biosensors, actuators, and drug delivery devices on or inside the animal body. A magnetic tracer embedded in the mobile unit allows real time non-line-of-sight animal tracking in 3D. The magnetic tracking is combined with optical tracking to indicate the subject's behavior, position, and head orientation in both open and covered spaces. This information is also used to activate the hex-PSC that is in the best position to power the mobile unit. The broader impact of the EnerCage system is its ability to facilitate new behavioral neuroscience experiments and phenotyping on freely behaving small animal subjects. It can enhance our understanding of neurological diseases such Alzheimer?s, epilepsy, and Parkinson's as well as other illnesses, such as hypertension, obesity, and cancer. Preclinical research involves collecting a variety of physiological data, such as neural activity, body temperature, blood flow/pressure, chemical concentrations, and physical/behavioral activity from small animal models, such as rodents. Traditional experimental setups are small, tethered, secluded, and unnatural, resulting in an impoverished environment that is different from the species? natural habitat, thereby biasing the results, particularly in behavioral experiments. The EnerCage system will create an enriched environment by completely eliminating tethering and large payloads (e.g. battery-powered wireless devices). It will enable experiments of any duration in arenas of any size. It is suited for a wide range of preclinical research, from behavioral neuroscience on rats to genetic engineering and phenotyping of knockout mice. Moreover, the EnerCage allows high throughput experiments with multiple animal subjects socially interacting in the same spacious environment with tunnels and covered chambers. All of these advantages are of great interest to research centers, hospitals, neuroscientists, and drug companies, and contribute to the commercialization potential of the EnerCage.