Strand 2: Nanodevice Arrays for Peripheral Nerve Fascicle Activation


Researchers: Michael Donoghue, Dr. Brendan Jennings, Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam

Collaborator: Prof. Josep Miquel Jornet, University at Buffalo, State University of New York

Neural activation relies on the use of electrical current to stimulate specific parts of the nervous system in order to treat neurological conditions (e.g., Parkinson’s Disease), nerve breakages resulting from accidents, or neural connectivity for prosthetics. Stimulation of motor nerves at present is carried out by externally powered electrodes placed on the skin surface (transcutaneous) or under the skin (subcutaneous) in close proximity to muscles or nerves, which does not allow patients freedom of movement.

TBI are aiming to investigate how miniature devices constructed from nanoscale components could be embedded and interfaced to the nervous system to stimulate peripheral nerve neuron bundles (fascicles). The challenges in this research includes using wireless charging to power the embedded nanoscale devices, as well as synchronizing the stimulation to target different nerve bundles.

Ultrasound energy changing nanodevice with required intensity

Research Objectives:

  • Modelling the use of wireless ultrasound energy harvesting (maximum 720 mW/cm2) for implanted nanodevice arrays with electrodes for selective stimulation of peripheral nerve fascicles in the human body.
  • Modeling the input ultrasound energy (maximum 720 mW/cm2) and harvested power for single fixed-size nanowire-based nanodevices (1000µm2 with 20 nanowires per µm2) at different tissue depths and comparing these with the current and voltage levels required for peripheral neural stimulation.
  • Modelling the dimensions of nanodevice arrays, embedded in biocompatible tissue patches, to meet neural stimulation requirements. This also considers modeling the harvested energy due to tilts of the nanowire unit.

In the future, such stimulation will have a greater role in treating debilitating neural conditions, compensating for nerve damage and enhancing prosthetic control. This would entail the deployment of such nanodevice arrays not only in the peripheral nervous system but also in the central nervous system and possibly on the surface of the brain. The wireless nanodevice patch could also be utilised to communicate through the nervous system itself by generating action potentials to send coded data messages to distant receivers for bioelectronics medicine applications.

Selected Publications:

  • Michael Donoghue, Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, Brendan Jennings, Josep Miquel Jornet, Nanodevice Arrays for Peripheral Nerve Fascicle Activation Using Ultrasound Energy-harvesting, to appear in IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology, 2017.
  • Michael Donoghue, Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, Brendan Jennings, Josep Miquel Jornet, Powering In-body Nanosensors With Ultrasounds, IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology, vol. 15, no. 2, 2016.