Novel Platform for Living Neural Networks

Period of Performance: 08/15/2003 - 12/31/2003


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Nanomaterials Research, LLC
1831 Left Hand Circle
Longmont, CO 80501
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Unlocking the mechanism of neural growth understanding and communication is needed for and treatment of many degenerative diseases, as well as for neural prosthesis and restoration of damaged neural connections. Living neural networks (LNN) can enable a broad array of new tools for neural research. Furthermore, LNNs, being capable of detect minute environmental perturbations, are an attractive target for chemical and biological sensing. However, producing reliable LNNs is challenging, and requires control over the neuronal growth and formation of synaptic junctions, high charge density high-resolution neuronal contacts, overall biocompatibility and reproducibility. Substrates for LNNs that would satisfy these requirements are not available. To address this opportunity we propose to use self-organized nanoporous alumina ceramic as a platform for guided growth and interfacing of LNNs. The core of the innovation is in the combination of several ideas: nanoengineering of the anodic alumina to provide tailored neuron/substrate interface; hybrid micro machining of patterns for neural growth guidance; using encapsulated nanoelectrodes arrays and routing the excitation/response signals to the bottom of the chip to provide soft high resolution electrical contacts to neurons. Proposed living neural networks have significant commercial potential. If realized, they could be used as tools for neural network research, disease studies and diagnostics, drug and toxin screening, and new generation of biochemical sensors.