SystemX Seminar: Intracellular recording of thousands of connected neurons on a silicon chip

Intracellular recording of thousands of connected neurons on a silicon chip
Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - 2:00pm
Allen 101X
Prof. Donhee Ham (Harvard)
Abstract / Description: 

Massively parallel, intracellular recording of a large number of neurons across a network is a great technological pursuit in neurobiology, but it has not been achieved. The intracellular recording by the patch clamp electrode boasts unparalleled sensitivity that can measure down to sub-threshold synaptic events, but it is too bulky to be implemented into a dense massive-scale array: so far only ~10 parallel patch recordings have been possible. Optical methods––e.g., voltage-sensitive dyes/proteins––have been developed in hopes of parallelizing intracellular recording, but they have not been able to perform recording from more than ~30 neurons in parallel. As an opposite example, the microelectrode array can record from many more neurons, but this extracellular technique has too low a sensitivity to tap into synaptic activities. In this talk, I would like to share our on-going effort, a silicon chip that conducts intracellular recording from thousands of connected mammalian neurons in vitro, and discuss applications in high-throughput screening, functional connectome mapping, neuromorphic engineering, and data science.


Donhee Ham ( is Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics and EE at Harvard. He earned a B.S. degree in physics from Seoul National University. Following a 1.5-year military service in South Korea, he went to Caltech for graduate training in physics. There he worked in LIGO under Professor Barry Barish while in physics, and later obtained a Ph.D. in EE winning the Wilts Prize for the best EE thesis. The intellectual focus of his group at Harvard is on quantum and low-dimensional devices, neuro-electronic interface, NMR biomolecular spectroscopy, and integrated circuits.