Polymer fiber probes enable optical control of spinal cord and muscle function in vivo


Restoration of motor and sensory functions in paralyzed patients requires the development of tools for simultaneous recording and stimulation of neural activity in the spinal cord. In addition to its complex neurophysiology, the spinal cord presents technical challenges stemming from its flexible fibrous structure and repeated elastic deformation during normal motion. To address these engineering constraints, we developed highly flexible fiber probes, consisting entirely of polymers, for combined optical stimulation and recording of neural activity. The fabricated fiber probes exhibit low‐loss light transmission even under repeated extreme bending deformations. Using our fiber probes, we demonstrate simultaneous recording and optogenetic stimulation of neural activity in the spinal cord of transgenic mice expressing the light sensitive protein channelrhodopsin 2 (ChR2). Furthermore, optical stimulation of the spinal cord with the polymer fiber probes induces on‐demand limb movements that correlate with electromyographical (EMG) activity.

Advanced Functional Materials
Chi Lu
Engineer at Applied Materials
Ulrich P Froriep
Project Director at Fraunhofer Institute
Ryan A Koppes
Assistant Professor at Northeastern University
Andres Canales
Researcher at Advanced Silicon Group
Jennifer Selvidge
PhD student at UCSB MSE
Polina Anikeeva
Polina Anikeeva
Professor in Materials Science and Engineering
Professor in Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Associate Director, Research Laboratory of Electronics

My goal is to combine the current knowledge of biology and nanoelectronics to develop materials and devices for minimally invasive treatments for neurological and neuromuscular diseases.