Professor Jae-Woong Jeong’s research team developed 3D printing-based neural probe process technology

The research team of Professor Jae-Woong Jeong has developed a technology that can produce optogenetic neural probes using 3D printing through joint research with a research team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

This research, in which Ph.D. student Ju-Hyun Lee participated as the first author, was published in the international journal 'Advanced Functional Materials' on November 11th edition as a back cover. (Title: Rapidly Customizable, Scalable 3D-Printed Wireless Optogenetic Probes for Versatile Applications in Neuroscience)

In brain science and neuroscience research, optogenetics technology that precisely controls neural circuits through light is getting more attention recently. Neural probes are needed to transmit light to the deep brain. For brain research, different optimized designs are required depending on the target animal and the location of the target neural circuit. However, in general, semiconductor processes used to manufacture neural probes have limitations in that design modification is not easy, and a lot of cost and time is consumed each time a probe with a new design is developed.

The research team has overcome this limitation by using a 3D printer. Through SLA-based 3D printing, the team implemented a neural probe with the thickness of a hair. As a result, the optoelectronic probe with micro LEDs can be manufactured at the cost of less than $1 per piece, which is more than 50 times cheaper than commercial neural probes. This paved the way for providing highly affordable neural probes to the neuroscience community.

In addition, the research team proved the long-term biocompatibility and durability of the 3D-printed probe through animal experiments and verified its functionality by controlling the brain neural circuits of mice that move freely through optogenetic stimulation.

This technology enables rapid design and design modification of probes through CAD software, allowing rapid production of devices of various lengths and shapes. Not only 1D structure with one stimulation point, but also complex neural probes with 2D and 3D structures can be implemented, so it can be used for the study of complex neural circuits. The developed 3D printing process makes it easy to develop probes optimized for specific research purposes and can significantly shorten production time and cost, and is expected to contribute to the acceleration of neuroscience research.

Please check the contents of the paper from the link below.

[Link] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/adfm.202004285

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