Electronics for healthcare and life sciences
In-vivo and in-vitro cell interface platforms
Imec's research focuses on the interface between biological and electronic systems. We design processes, components, and prototype microsystems for neuro-electronic interfaces that can exchange information - bidirectionally - with electrogenic cells (neurons, cardiomyocytes) through electrical and chemical mechanisms.
We envision several applications. One is the fundamental research on neuronal behavior and neuronal networks that is the basis for developing new pharmaceutical drugs (e.g. Alzheimer's disease). Another application is the identification and development of new therapeutic approaches to brain diseases (e.g. Parkinson's disease, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, etc.).
Our research addresses both in vitro technologies (microelectrode arrays, biosensors) as well as in vivo technologies (brain implants):
- Multi-modal arrays for bi-directional electrical, optical, chemical (microfluidic) interaction with cells and tissue slices
- Micronail arrays with embedded electronics for parallel stimulation, recording, and electroporation with single-cell resolution
- In vivo electrophysiology and pharmacology array probes for deep brain stimulation and recording
- Topologies and biochemistry for improved cell adhesion
- Chemical and topographical guidance patterns for neuronal networks
- Neuronal signal identification and signal processing electronics and algorithms
- In vitro and in vivo microsystem concepts for medical and life science applications
Making advances in the research of bio-electronic systems requires an interdisciplinary approach. An approach including teams of researchers from multiple disciplines. Therefore we have set up the Neuroelectronics Convergence Laboratory, in close cooperation with the Flemish Institute of Biotechnologies (VIB) and the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven).
The lab's mission is to make the infrastructure available for the interaction between researchers from the fields of molecular biology, medicine, microelectronic engineering and physical sciences. This lab has facilities for cell culture, molecular biology, and electrophysiology, adding to imec's infrastructure for semiconductor processing, nanotechnologies and biosensor fabrication.
Our succesful collaboration in the lab has led to the creation of NERF (Neuroelectronics Research Flanders), a research initiative focussing on interdisciplinary fundamental research on neuroelectronics at the interface between biology and micro-/nanoelectronics.