(Mentors: Michael Naughton, Ferris Prof. of Physics; Thomas C. Chiles Deluca Chair of Biology; John Christianson, Assistant Prof. of Psychology)
Description: The brain is a computational organ, where key operators are electrochemical potentials relayed within and between cells. These signals occur on millisecond timeframes and in cellular compartments on the order 0.1-10 μm3 regimes. As such, neuroscientists need tools that can interface with brain cells at biologically-meaningful spatial and temporal resolutions, yet no extant device architecture has approached this scale. The Nanoscale Devices for Neuroscience Group at BC integrates laboratories in Physics, Psychology and Biology to develop and deploy novel devices that represent the next generation in neural interfaces. By reducing the shielded, coaxial wire to the nanoscale, the Naughton group (Physics) has developed this “nanocoax” to permit unprecedented spatial resolution in a recording electrode (~1μm), while also guiding light (see Figure 2). This project will characterize the nanocoax as a dual purpose recording and control system by combining it with light-sensitive (optogenetic) neuronal tissues. Students engaged in this collaboration will utilize tissue culture and transgenic methods to generate and maintain light-sensitive, optogenetic biological samples (Chiles Lab), fabricate and characterize the optical and electrical physical properties of nanocoaxial electrode arrays (Naughton Lab) and finally conduct in vitro or in vivo electrophysiological experiments (Christianson/Naughton Labs).