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How Microfabrication Technology Benefits… neural implants

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Implantable microdevices have been used to develop cochlear implants and artificial retinas – and now researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are working to develop the world’s first neural device to help restore memory. Research engineer Angela Tooker says what makes their devices different is the use of microfabrication.

"There are a number of commercially available neural implants out there, but they’re not microfabricated. So we’re getting small, able to access all portions of the brain. That’s another limitation of kind of commercially-available technology – you can’t go everywhere in the brain with it."

Tooker says with microfabrication, engineers can put thousands of electrodes on these devices and access thousands of neurons within the brain.

"Essentially, what that means is that we’re making devices in the micron scale. You know, to put that in a size perspective, a hair is generally considered to be about a hundred microns wide, so our devices are smaller than that."

The Lab’s Neural Technology group is collaborating on their implantable neural device with UCLA and private industry.

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