Research Interests: neural interfaces, neural networks, machine learning, automatic programming, materials science, neurobiology, nanofabrication, robotics & automation.Job Interests: Academic or Industry -- so long as the project is interesting!
Rough trajectory: Cornell ECE, BS -> SUNY Downstate research Engineer -> Duke Neurobiology, Ph.D. -> UCSF research engineer (not postdoc).
I grew up in NY, spent nearly 8 years in North Carolina, and now call California home.
Flexible Electrodes and Insertion Machine for Stable, Minimally-Invasive Neural Recording [BPN731]
Current approaches to interfacing with the nervous system mainly rely on stiff electrode materials, which work remarkably well, but suffer degradation from chronic immune response due to mechanical impedance mismatch and blood-brain barrier disruption. This current technology also poses limits on recording depth, spacing, and location. In this project we aim to ameliorate these issues by developing a system of very fine and flexible electrodes for recording from nervous tissue, a robotic system for manipulating and implanting these electrodes, and a means for integrating electrodes with neural processing chips. We have fabricated five versions of the electrodes, and have demonstrated their manual and automated insertion into an agarose tissue proxy, ex-vivo brain, and in-vivo rat using a etched tungsten needle. We have also fabricated and tested in agarose four revisions of the inserter robot. The most recent inserter robot design uses replaceable cartridges for the electrodes, to which electrodes are mounted; these electrodes are made on a 4um thick polyimide substrate with a parylene peel-away backing. The parylene backing holds the fine wires and keeps them from tangling until they are inserted, and provides a more robust means of handling and mounting the structures. Similarly, both the insertion needle and micro-drill can be replaced intra-operatively via cartridges. We have developed a machine for laser micro-welding the insertion needle. In vivo tests of the system are ongoing, particularly the new ballistic retraction mechanism for releasing the electrodes from the needle.