Microscopic electronics injected directly into mouse's brain

Credit: John A. Rogers/ University of Illinois and Washington University

In an experiment that lends itself readily to conspiracy theory circles, a pair of scientists have developed an electronic implant that can be delivered into the brain by injection. The entire device is only 25 microns thick and about one quarter the width of a human hair, which is the entire point of its invention.

The human body, and the brain, in particular, tends to react negatively to being poked, prodded and generally invaded by electronics. Even when those electronics are there to do some good — like treating Parkinson’s disease. The larger the electronics, the more likely they are to disturb the brain or the fluid around it, which can cause swelling, amongst other complications.

Since this experiment was the first of its kind, University of Illinois professor John A. Rogers and anesthesiologist Michael Bruchas decided to try something basic. They constructed a tiny array of LEDs which would stimulate specific areas of their genetically altered test subject, who was of the mouse variety. The alterations in the mouse's brain were designed to give the pair of scientists visible feedback when their device's individual LEDs were lit.

In layman's terms: they threw a tiny rave inside a mouse's brain. And it worked.

Now, it should be mentioned that tiny light-emitting electronics are not the end goal of this experiment. Rogers and his team envision a whole array of injectable electronics — ones that can treat all sorts of organs from the heart to the lungs. Basically, any part of the body that runs the risk of damage with larger technology. They'll also have to solve the issue of a power source for their creations. The mouse that received this first treatment had to go around wearing a battery pack as a hat, which was probably a lot less cute than it sounds.

Via Discovery News

For the latest tech stories, follow DVICE on Twitter
at @dvice or find us on Facebook