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Xiuling Li, Paul Froeter, Olivia Cangellaris and Martha Gillette
University of Illinois, USA
Posters-Accepted Abstracts: J Phys Chem Biophys
An outstanding challenge for humanity is to continue to understand how our brain works and invent technology to restore neural circuit functionalities. Many neural interfaces used for neuron cell cultures are flat, open, rigid, and opaque, posing challenges to reflect the native microenvironment of the brain and precise engagement with neurons. In this talk, we present a novel neural interface consisting of silicon nitride microtube arrays formed by a new nanotechnology platform that simply relies on strain-induced Self-Rolled-up Membrane (S-RuM) mechanism. These microtubes are transparent, provide three-dimensional adhesion, and most importantly, dramatically accelerate and steadily guide the growth of cortical neuron cells. The ability of the microtube array to control the speed and direction of axonal extension provides a key element in arranging patterned neural networks that have both short and long range connections. Since the micro tube diameter, site, and spacing, as well as 3D stacking, can be controlled precisely, this work has clear implications towards building intelligent synthetic neural circuits.