Illuminating the brain with an ultra-thin, flexible, multipoint microLED array film

Press Releases | March 18, 2022

Development of a new optogenetic device that enables simultaneous optical stimulation at specific/multiple regions in the brain

Researchers including Associate Professor Hiroto Sekiguchi in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Information Engineering at Toyohashi University of Technology, Associate Professor Noriaki Ohkawa in the Comprehensive Research Facilities for Advanced Medical Science at Dokkyo Medical University, and Assistant Professor Izumi Fukunaga in the Sensory and Behavioural Neuroscience Unit at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, have developed a flexible, multipoint microLED array film. The film can be flexibly attached to cover the brain and can illuminate specific regions of it as microLEDs are arranged along multiple points of it.

In recent years, optogenetics has enabled the manipulation of neural activity by light. While this technique requires a light-emitting device, there were no optical devices that could be attached to cover entire tissues such as the brain, and with the light only influencing target neurons, or could be implanted in an organism so that the activity would be freely manipulated by light.

To implement this device, a thin, lightweight, and flexible body is required. It was thus necessary to establish a technology to arrange an LED layer a couple of micrometers thick highly precisely on an ultra-thin film that is not harmful or toxic to living tissue. The research group this time has established both (1) a technology to form a hollow structure of microLEDs with high density and in minute detail, and (2) a high-precision batch transfer technology using a thermal release sheet. With these technologies, it has also successfully developed an ultra-thin, lightweight multipoint microLED array film that maintains lighting performance even when the film is bent. The application of the developed device is expected to create a new area of neuroscience research aimed at comprehensively understanding the brain information that underpins how neural activity, behaviors, and disorders are linked.

Full text: Illuminating the brain with an ultra-thin, flexible, multipoint microLED array film
TUT website: Press release


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