from the we're-starting-up-the-slope dept.
A collaborative team of engineers and neuroscientists at Brown University in Providence, RI, plan to develop nanoelectronics systems to monitor brain activity. According to a press release, the group's proposal is to create a tiny device that would emit light to stimulate brain cells and record light from brain cells, analogous to a camera. Using electronic structures 500 times smaller than the width of a human hair, six Brown University professors plan to explore the function of the human brain under a $4.25-million grant from the U.S. Defense Department. And they make some interesting comments about the long term potential of their work.
An interesting aspect of the announcement is their vision of the longer-term potential of such research: "The team of scientists from several disciplines hopes to develop electronic circuits many times smaller than the microelectronics used in personal computers. Their work in nanotechnology may be able to tell scientists more about how the brain works and may someday allow computer makers to supercharge electronic structures with human capabilities."
"We want to have the man-made and the nature-made structures communicate," said Arto Nurmikko, professor of electrical engineering and physics and principal investigator of the research program. "Is there a benefit? Is it possible to endow a man-made structure with some new capabilities which we don't have and might become increasingly important in the future?"
The Brown proposal was entitled "Coupling of Brain with Microstructured Electronic/Optoelectronic Arrays: Interactive Computation at the Bio/Info/Micro Interface." The five-year grant was awarded in July by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).