Understanding the neural basis of brain function and dysfunction requires developing multimodal methods to record and stimulate neural activity in the brain with high spatiotemporal resolution. We have been designing high-density opto-electrical devices to enable bi-directional (read/write) interfacing with the brain for long-term chronic studies.
One of the challenges of optical techniques for structural and functional recording and imaging is the scattering and absorption of light, limiting light-based methods to superficial layers of tissue. To overcome this challenge, implantable photonic waveguides such as optical fibers or graded-index (GRIN) lenses have been used. The prohibitive size and rigidity of these optical implants cause damage to the brain tissue and vasculature. In this talk, I will discuss our research on developing next generation optical neural interfaces that are microfabricated on flexible materials to minimize damage to the tissue.
First, I will discuss a compact flexible photonic platform based on biocompatible polymers, Parylene C and PDMS, for high-resolution light delivery into the tissue in a minimally-invasive way. This photonic platform can be monolithically integrated with implantable electrical neural interfaces.
I will also discuss our recent work on developing a novel complementary method for confining and steering light in the tissue using ultrasound. I will show that ultrasound waves can sculpt virtual optical waveguides in the tissue to define and steer the trajectory of light, thus obviating the need for implanting invasive physical devices in the brain.
These novel neurophotonic techniques will enable a whole gamut of applications from fundamental science studies to designing next generation neural prostheses.
Maysam Chamanzar joined Carnegie Mellon University in 2016 as an Assistant Professor of ECE, where he is running an interdisciplinary research program at the interface of nanotechnology, photonics and neuroscience to design next generation neural interfaces. He is also a faculty member of the Carnegie Mellon Neuroscience Institute. Before joining CMU, he was with the EECS department at UC Berkeley as a postdoc researcher and then as a research scientist after he completed his PhD at Georgia Tech in 2012. His research is focused on opto-electrical neural interfaces to study brain function and dysfunction. His breakthrough research on ultrasonically defined virtual optical components has opened up new opportunities for non-invasive non-surgical micro-endoscopy and in situ optical manipulation. His group has published a few high-impact papers on this subject. Maysam has published more than thirty refereed papers and holds six patent applications in the areas of nanophotonics and neurotechnology. He is the recipient of a number of awards including the SPIE Research Excellence Award, the Sigma-Xi Best Thesis Award, the IEEE BRAIN Best Paper Award, SPIRA Excellence in Teaching Award and awards from the Scaife Foundation, the HAND Foundation, NIH, and NSF. He is now leading a collaborative project supported by the Integrative Strategies for Understanding Neural and Cognitive Systems (NCS) program, an interdisciplinary program at NSF.