The Neural Interfaces & MicroSystems Laboratory at DGIST focuses on the development of neural interfaces, neural stimulation methodologies for therapeutic purposes against certain neurological diseases, and micro devices/systems that are to be implanted in the body for the purpose of health monitoring, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and basic research. The key engineering and technological requirements are microfabrication (MEMS) technology, device integration and packaging, and engineering of biocompatible and biosafe materials. Current research interests of our laboratory include
- Neural microelectrodes of both surface type and penetrating type
- Optical stimulation and implantable magnetic stimulation, in addition to traditional electrical stimulation
- Stretchable and Wearable sensors for bio-signal detection
- Finite element analysis of spine implants
We develop novel neural microelectrodes that can be implanted in the body, to detect signals from or to electrically stimulate the nervous system. The microelectrodes are fabricated using MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical system) technologies based on polymers or polymer/silicon hybrid structures, for improved biocompatibility. Also, the same technology is applied to detect intramuscular EMG signals from embryonic/larval Zebrafish.
We develop implantable optical and magnetic neural stimulation methodologies in addition to traditional electrical stimulation. Electrical stimulation has been the standard method to stimulate neural tissues but also has some disadvantages. To overcome the limitations of electrical stimulation, we explore the feasibility of implantable magnetic and optical stimulation methods in-vitro as well as in-vivo.
We develop novel fabrication techniques to pattern thin-film metals or silver nanowires based on flexible and/or stretchable polymeric substrates. We expand the application of these fabrication techniques for developing new flexible printed circuit boards (FPCB) and wearable/patchable bio-signal monitoring sensors towards smart health-care system in future.
We investigate the strategies to improve the longevity and stability of polymer-based implants in physiological environments. In many cases, wireless power supply is favorable for implanted devices to eliminate the use of batteries in the body. Thus, we investigate short-range, low-power wireless powering for implantable devices. Also, we investigate the interactions between implants and the body, such as artificial discs, using finite element method.