Fusing Chips with Brains

nym | 02:00 PM

Cyborganics took a big step forward when european researchers were able to fuse electronic chips with brain cells. The reason why they did this was to pave the road towards sophisticated neural prostheses. These prostheses could be used potentially to assist nurological disorders or build more advanced computers using human tissue. Yeah, it sounds a bit like Robocop, but it could mean a great leap in computational power and cyborgs.

To create the neuro-chip, researchers squeezed more than 16,000 electronic transistors and hundreds of capacitors onto a silicon chip just 1 millimeter square in size.

[Researchers] used special proteins found in the brain to glue brain cells, called neurons, onto the chip. However, the proteins acted as more than just a simple adhesive.

"They also provided the link between ionic channels of the neurons and semiconductor material in a way that neural electrical signals could be passed to the silicon chip," said study team member Stefano Vassanelli from the University of Padua in Italy.

The proteins allowed the neuro-chip's electronic components and its living cells to communicate with each other. Electrical signals from neurons were recorded using the chip's transistors, while the chip's capacitors were used to stimulate the neurons.

They see the payoff being decades away, but for the meantime they believe their work can be used for screening drugs for the pharmaceutical industry. After all researchers follow where the money is, and the pharmaceutical industry has bags of it.

[ Link via Xaos. Thanks Xaos! ]


that was freakin' awesome dude.

Posted by: Jamie at March 1, 2007 07:32 PM
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