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Research & Technology

Graphene microsensors listen to nerve signals

Nano research is developing microscopically small sensors that are able to pick up and relay impulses from nerve cells.

04 Dec. 2017
Michael Triadan
Forschungszentrum Jülich
(picture: Forschungszentrum Jülich)

Scientists at the Jülich Research Center , the Technical University of Munich and the Leiden Institutes of Chemistry in the Netherlands have developed microsensors capable of listening to nerve signals . Researchers use graphene for the tiny sensors (invisible to the naked eye) which has a thickness of only one atomic layer. As an active layer, it combines three advantageous properties for this purpose: it is extremely sensitive to the weak cell impulses, is biocompatible and can be applied to a flexible support.

In the long run, the plan is to develop a brain to computer interface. Such implants pick up signals right in the central nervous system and conduct them to the exterior, for example in order to allow patients to one day control prostheses “by means of their thoughts.” For now, the sensors can help gain basic insights into the function of nerve cells.

The carriers, a plastic film barely larger than a stamp, can be rolled up and bent without loss of function. This is an important prerequisite for being implanted in the body of a patient.

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