Neurological research by ANU could lead to the future development of brain prosthetics that help the brain recover from damage caused by an accident, stroke or degenerative neurological diseases.
ANU researchers have developed a material that allows brain cells to grow, connect with each other and form predictable circuits. The material is a semiconductor wafer patterned with nanowires, which provides a scaffold that guides the growth of brain cells – effectively allowing researchers to build and study a ‘brain on a chip’.
Dr Vini Gautam, lead researcher at ANU’s Research School of Engineering, said the project will provide new insights into the development of neuro-prosthetics that can assist in brain recovery. The study is the first to show that neuronal circuits grown on the nanowire scaffolds are functional and highly interconnected, opening the potential to apply the scaffold design for neuro-prosthetics. It brings researchers a step closer to understanding how neurons in the brain form computing circuits and eventually process information.
The research has involved multi-disciplinary collaboration between physics, engineering and neuroscience disciplines. The nanowires were fabricated by a group led by Professor Chennupati Jagadish at ANU’s Research School of Physics and Engineering at ANU.