Floating light-activated microelectrical stimulators tested in the rat spinal cord

Ammar Abdo, Mesut Sahin, David S. Freedman, Elif Cevik, Philipp S. Spuhler, M. Selim Unlu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Microelectrodes of neural stimulation utilize fine wires for electrical connections to driving electronics. Breakage of these wires and the neural tissue response due to their tethering forces are major problems encountered with long-term implantation of microelectrodes. The lifetime of an implant for neural stimulation can be substantially improved if the wire interconnects are eliminated. Thus, we proposed a floating light-activated microelectrical stimulator (FLAMES) for wireless neural stimulation. In this paradigm, a laser beam at near infrared (NIR) wavelengths will be used as a means of energy transfer to the device. In this study, microstimulators of various sizes were fabricated, with two cascaded GaAs p-i-n photodiodes, and tested in the rat spinal cord. A train of NIR pulses (0.2 ms, 50 Hz) was sent through the tissue to wirelessly activate the devices and generate the stimulus current. The forces elicited by intraspinal stimulation were measured from the ipsilateral forelimb with a force transducer. The largest forces were around 1.08 N, a significant level of force for the rat forelimb motor function. These in vivo tests suggest that the FLAMES can be used for intraspinal microstimulation even for the deepest implant locations in the rat spinal cord. The power required to generate a threshold arm movement was investigated as the laser source was moved away from the microstimulator. The results indicate that the photon density does not decrease substantially for horizontal displacements of the source that are in the same order as the beam radius. This gives confidence that the stimulation threshold may not be very sensitive to small displacement of the spinal cord relative to the spine-mounted optical power source.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number056012
JournalJournal of neural engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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