October 31, 2020

Wireless Ensembles of Sub-mm Microimplants Communicating as a Network near 1 GHz in a Neural Application

Multichannel electrophysiological sensors and stimulators, especially those used for studying the nervous system, are most commonly based on monolithic microelectrode arrays. Such architecture limits the spatial flexibility of individual electrode placement, posing constraints for scaling to a large number of nodes, particularly across non-contiguous locations. We describe the design and fabrication of sub-millimeter size electronic microchips (Neurograins) which autonomously perform neural sensing or electrical microstimulation, with emphasis on their wireless networking and powering. An ~1 GHz electromagnetic transcutaneous link to an external telecom hub enables bidirectional communication and control at the individual neurograin level. The link operates on a customized time division multiple access (TDMA) protocol designed to scale up to 1000 neurograins. The system is demonstrated as a cortical implant in a small animal (rat) model with anatomical limitations restricting the implant to 48 neurograins. We suggest that the neurograin approach can be generalized to overcome many scalability issues for wireless sensors and actuators as implantable microsystems

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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