Researchers were all ears when engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison introduced transparent brain-imaging sensors via the Nature Communications journal in 2014.
“So many research groups started asking us for these devices that we couldn’t keep up,” says Zhenqiang Ma, one of the researchers at UW-Madison. Ma, the Lynn H. Matthias and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor recalls how they were flooded with requests.
Ma and his group, a world leader in the development of cutting-edge flexible electronics, created a transparent, implantable micro-electrode array device that blows away the current technology.
The project was already patented through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation but Ma and fellow professor Justin Williams (also a Vilas Distinguished achiever) had more things in mind. “That little step has already resulted in an explosion of research in this field. We didn’t want to keep this technology in our lab,” says Williams. He wanted to share the technology they created and explore all the possible applications.
In a recent paper in the Nature Protocols, they described in great detail how to fabricate and use transparent graphene neural electrode arrays in areas of optogenetics, flouresecent microscopy, electrophysiology and optical coherence tomography. Ma explains that the detailed descriptions was published so that they can take the next steps.
Currently the UW-Madison research team are seeking of more ways to use their technology. The areas of application they are now looking into are in neuroscience particularly in research of stroke, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, cardiac conditions, etc. Ma and his team are hoping other researchers will follow through.
“We expect more revolutionary research will follow in this interdisciplinary field”, Ma says.” “This paper is a gateway for other groups to explore the huge potential from here.” He adds that their technology demonstrates one of the many in vivo applications of the popular graphene material.
More information can be found at: University of Wisconsin-Madison.