Imec news

Archive 2005

Unique laboratory brings experts in life sciences and electronics closer together


IMEC has set up a Neuro-Electronics Convergence laboratory, which is unique in Europe. Experts in molecular biology, cell biology, medicine, microelectronic engineering and physical sciences of IMEC, the Flanders Interuniversity Institute of Biotechnology (VIB) and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.Leuven) will use this infrastructure containing multidisciplinary tools with the common goal of developing neuro-electronic systems. This kind of daily interaction is necessary to unleash the full potential of neuro-electronic hybrid systems for both medical and industrial applications.

"We believe that the creation of such a multidisciplinary laboratory is the best way to merge the expertise available in life sciences and in microelectronics and to make these distant worlds speak the same language," says Carmen Bartic, Team leader - Cell-Based Sensors & Systems. "The expertise on nano- and microtechnologies, available at IMEC will be complemented by the expertise of the VIB, the K.U.Leuven and the University Hospital of Leuven (UZ Leuven) on molecular biology, cell biology and medicine. Also, they will give specialized support concerning the necessary biosafety and regulatory affairs. These kinds of initiatives are essential to ensure fast progress in neuro-electronics and its implementation towards medical and industrial applications."

The neuro-electronics convergence lab provides facilities for semiconductor processing, nanotechnologies, biosensor fabrication, cell culture, molecular biology and electro-physiology. Research in the convergence lab covers two main topics:
- Neurons-on-chip for in-vitro applications: hybrid systems comprising patterned neuronal networks on top of a chip surface. Highly sensitive and efficient transducers are designed to pick up and/or trigger both electrical and chemical neuronal signals. The main goal of this research area is to develop tools that enable to study the neuronal communication, and thus give insight in brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- Neuroprobes for in-vivo applications: microfabricated arrays of sensors and actuators to be implanted in the brain for deep-brain stimulation and in-situ monitoring of the neuronal activity. Several projects on this topic were set up together with the Department of Human Genetics, Physiology and Experimental Functional and Steretactic Neurosurgery of the K.U.Leuven. In future, such neuroprobes may find utility in the treatment of movement disorders (e.g. Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and dystonia) or obsessive-compulsive disorders.

This initiative builds further on IMEC’s current expertise in neuro-electronics focusing on the development of field-effect transistors for the detection of electrical and chemical neuronal signals, on surface chemistry, and on guidance techniques for neurons by means of chemical and topographical cues.

For more information:

Katrien Marent
Corporate Communication Manager
IMEC, Kapeldreef 75
B- 3001 Leuven, Belgium
Tel +32 16 28 18 80 Fax +32 16 28 16 37

Ann Van Gysel
Communications Manager VIB
Tel +32 9 2446611

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