Nanophotonics for Neuroscience

Using active switching on a nanophotonic platform, we generate patterns of single neurons at unprecedented frequencies by an implantable probe with high timing precision (<1 ms), critical for understanding behavior in animals. Scaling up the number of controllable emitters and integrating recording electrodes with this nanophotonic platform will enable large-scale studies of neural activity with high precision in behaving animals.

The challenge of controlling and understanding the connectivity in the brain shares similarities with the challenge of controlling the connectivity in today’s computers. In both cases, the goal is to influence or extract the data from the individual nodes in a massively parallel fashion, fast, and with no loss.

Computing is experiencing a revolution, it is transitioning from being based on electrical wires to nano-sized optical wires. In the past decade we learned how nano-photonic waveguides can enable one to extract and manipulate enormous amount of information with unprecedented rate (>10^15 signals/sec), and with virtually no loss. Neuroscience could leverage the recent advances in nano-photonics opening the door to new class of tools for simultaneously imaging, recording and influencing individual activity of neurons in the brain. 

Applications include multi-point deep optogenetic excitation using minimally invasive nano-structures, voltage sensing using electro-optical nanostructures and high resolution imaging using volume scanning devices.