CBN published “Tailoring light delivery for optogenetics by modal demultiplexing in tapered optical fibers”

Optical control of neural activity (optogenetics) is a fast growing technique in neuroscience to study the nervous system and its functions; the development of devices to deliver light in deep regions of the living brain is a crucial point to further boost its application. In the last years, the scientific community made a strong effort to develop minimally invasive probes operating at high spatio-temporal resolution, with the final goal to realize bidirectional optical interfaces with the brain.

Marco Pisanello and Filippo Pisano with colleagues from the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia and from Harvard Medical School recently published their new results on Scientific Reports, demonstrating the performance of devices able to illuminate from 0.4mm up to 3.0mm of brain tissue. These devices provide neuroscientists with a tool that allows for dynamic targeting of regions with diverse extension. The microprobe consists of an optical fiber with its terminal region tapered down to a sub-micrometer tip, with well-controlled geometrical properties of the cone-shaped structure. With respect to standard optical fibers, this device allows not only to reach deep brain structure provoking lower damage to brain tissue, but also to rapidly reconfigure the spatial distribution of the light emitted from the taper by exploiting the optical properties of the taper. This will enable scientists to choose a light pattern tuned ad hoc to their experiment.

Tailoring light delivery for optogenetics by modal demultiplexing in tapered optical fibers

The research group is supervised by Ferruccio Pisanello and Massimo De Vittorio, at the Center for Biomolecular Nanotechnologies of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Lecce, and by Bernardo Sabatini, at Harvard Medical School in Boston. The research is part of the MODEM project, coordinated by Ferruccio Pisanello and funded by the European Research Council (ERC); Massimo De Vittorio is involved, together with Bernardo Sabatini, in a project funded by the US National Institute of Health (NIH).
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