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2 Publications

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    10/16/20 | Robotic Multi-Probe-Single-Actuator Inchworm Neural Microdrive
    Smith R, Kolb I, Tanaka S, Lee A, Harris T, Barbic M
    bioRxiv. 2020 Oct 16:

    Electrophysiology is one of the major experimental techniques used in neuroscience. The favorable spatial and temporal resolution as well as the increasingly larger site counts of brain recording electrodes contribute to the popularity and importance of electrophysiology in neuroscience. Such electrodes are typically mechanically placed in the brain to perform acute or chronic freely moving animal measurements. The micro positioners currently used for such tasks employ a single translator per independent probe being placed into the targeted brain region, leading to significant size and weight restrictions. To overcome this limitation, we have developed a miniature robotic multi-probe neural microdrive that utilizes novel phase-change-material-filled resistive heater micro-grippers. The microscopic dimensions, gentle gripping action, independent electronic actuation control, and high packing density of the grippers allow for micrometer-precision independent positioning of multiple arbitrarily shaped parallel neural electrodes with only a single piezo actuator in an inchworm motor configuration. This multi-probe-single-actuator design allows for significant size and weight reduction, as well as remote control and potential automation of the microdrive. We demonstrate accurate placement of multiple independent recording electrodes into the CA1 region of the rat hippocampus in vivo in acute and chronic settings. Thus, our robotic neural microdrive technology is applicable towards basic neuroscience and clinical studies, as well as other multi-probe or multi-sensor micro-positioning applications.

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    02/13/20 | The Neuropixels probe: A CMOS based integrated microsystems platform for neuroscience and brain-computer interfaces.
    Dutta B, Trautmann EM, Welkenhuysen M, Shenoy KV, Andrei A, Harris TD, Lopez CM, O'Callahan J, Putzeys J, Raducanu BC, Severi S, Stavisky SD
    2019 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM). 2020 Feb 13:. doi: 10.1109/IEDM19573.201910.1109/IEDM19573.2019.8993611

    We review recent progress in neural probes for brain recording, with a focus on the Neuropixels platform. Historically the number of neurons’ recorded simultaneously, follows a Moore’s law like behavior, with numbers doubling every 6.7 years. Using traditional techniques of probe fabrication, continuing to scale up electrode densities is very challenging. We describe a custom CMOS process technology that enables electrode counts well beyond 1000 electrodes; with the aim to characterize large neural populations with single neuron spatial precision and millisecond timing resolution. This required integrating analog and digital circuitry with the electrode array, making it a standalone integrated electrophysiology recording system. Input referred noise and power per channel is 7.5µV and <50µW respectively to ensure tissue heating <1°C. This approach enables doubling the number of measured neurons every 12 months.

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