Minuscule LED Lights Can Be Inserted Into Brains

Minuscule LED Lights Can Be Inserted Into Brains

This device for monitoring brain activity maylead to new breakthroughs.

Ross Brooks
  • 19 april 2013

Existing technology used to understand how the brain works normally requires fiber optics to be wired into the brain. This may be about to change with the development of tiny LED lights that can be injected into the brain in an attempt to diagnose brain conditions and develop new treatments.

The lights were developed in a collaboration between two teams from The University Of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University. To serve their purpose, each LED can be as small as a single cell and is printed on a plastic ribbon thinner than a human hair. When used in combination with a micro-injection needle, the lights can be injected extremely accurately with minimum disturbance to the surrounding brain tissue.


A device on top of the subject’s head acts as an antenna and circuit, using radio frequency energy to power the LEDs. It can also be detached when not in use, as opposed to current methods which involved being connected to a laser device.


Beyond this powerful new micro-device, the two teams have also been developing similar devices such as temperature and light sensors. This would allow for even more possibilities when it comes to monitoring activity, not just in the brain, but across the entire body.

The University Of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign // Washington University


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