Thursday, August 31

Neurons form links with silicon nanowires

Here's another article of mine from New Scientist that got posted on their site a few days ago:

Silicon nanowires have been connected to individual neurons, creating “artificial synapses” similar to the links brain cells naturally form between each other.

The development could prove a major step towards creating advanced neural prosthetics – devices that allow people to control a computer or robotic limb with their thoughts.

Neurons have been grown on silicon chips for some time. But artificial electrodes are much larger than neurons, which prevents researchers from monitoring or triggering individual neuron activity. Nanowires, however, are much smaller.

So Charles Lieber and colleagues at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, built a chip with 20-nanometre-wide silicon wires running across its surface. On top of the chip they grew rat neurons, which include axons, relatively long projections that transmit signals to other cells, and dendrites, shorter extensions that receive signals. The axons and dendrites formed connections with the nanowires – more than 50 connections per neuron. These connections were about the size of a natural synapse....

Read more on New Scientist site.


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