Neural dust: miniature, wireless, implantable system for neuro-modulation (ND)

DJ Seo, Michel Maharbiz, Elad Alon, Jan M. Rabaey and Jose M. Carmena

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

The emerging field of bioelectronic medicine seeks methods for deciphering and modulating electrophysiological activity in the body to attain therapeutic effects at target organs. Current approaches to interfacing with central (CNS) and peripheral nervous systems (PNS) rely heavily on wires, creating problems for chronic use, while emerging wireless approaches lack the size scalability necessary to interrogate small nerves. Furthermore, conventional electrode-based technologies lack the capability to record from CNS or PNS with high spatial resolution or to record independently from multiple sites. We are developing neural dust, an alternative wireless and scalable ultrasonic backscattering system for powering and communicating with implanted bioelectronics. One of the principal strengths of neural dust is that, unlike conventional radio frequency technology, ultrasound-based system is effective at delivering power to sub-mm scale devices in tissue due to lower propagation speed and lower loss in the tissue.

Figure 1
Figure 1: Neural dust system diagram showing the placement of ultrasonic interrogator under the skull and independent neural dust motes dispersed throughout the brain (CNS).