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Front Neurosci. 2016 Mar 7;10:69. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2016.00069. eCollection 2016.

Nanomaterial-Enabled Neural Stimulation.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, The Ohio State University Columbus, OH, USA.
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, The Ohio State UniversityColumbus, OH, USA; Department of Neuroscience, The Ohio State UniversityColumbus, OH, USA.


Neural stimulation is a critical technique in treating neurological diseases and investigating brain functions. Traditional electrical stimulation uses electrodes to directly create intervening electric fields in the immediate vicinity of neural tissues. Second-generation stimulation techniques directly use light, magnetic fields or ultrasound in a non-contact manner. An emerging generation of non- or minimally invasive neural stimulation techniques is enabled by nanotechnology to achieve a high spatial resolution and cell-type specificity. In these techniques, a nanomaterial converts a remotely transmitted primary stimulus such as a light, magnetic or ultrasonic signal to a localized secondary stimulus such as an electric field or heat to stimulate neurons. The ease of surface modification and bio-conjugation of nanomaterials facilitates cell-type-specific targeting, designated placement and highly localized membrane activation. This review focuses on nanomaterial-enabled neural stimulation techniques primarily involving opto-electric, opto-thermal, magneto-electric, magneto-thermal and acousto-electric transduction mechanisms. Stimulation techniques based on other possible transduction schemes and general consideration for these emerging neurotechnologies are also discussed.


nanomaterial; nanotechnology; neural stimulation; non-contact; noninvasive

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