Berkeley engineers build smallest wireless nerve stimulator

Engineers at University of California Berkley have created at wireless nerve stimulator, claimed to be the smallest of its kind, at 6.5mm2

Berkley-StimDust

Called StimDust, it “is the smallest deep-tissue stimulator that we are aware of that’s capable of stimulating almost all of the major therapeutic targets in the peripheral nervous system”, said Berkley researcher Rikky Muller. “This device represents our vision of having tiny devices that can be implanted in minimally invasive ways to modulate or stimulate the peripheral nervous system.”

Berkley-StimDustThe device wraps around a nerve and can stimulate as well as record, transmit and receive data.

The wireless link is via ultrasound – the larger cube in the images is an ultrasonic crystal antenna. This is mounted alongside an energy-storing capacitor and a 1mm3 custom made chip.

The entire device is powered by 4uW and has a mass of 10mg.

By connecting is around the sciatic nerve, hind leg motion was controlled in a live rodent.

Berkley-StimDustStimDust was implanted around the sciatic nerve of a live rodent, controlling hind leg motion

According to the University, Muller hopes that her work can lead to treatment for diseases such as heart irregularities, chronic pain, asthma or epilepsy.

“One of the visions of my group is to create these very efficient bidirectional interfaces with the nervous system and couple that with intelligence to really understand the signals of disease and then to be able to treat disease in an intelligent, methodical way,” she said.

Muller led the development team with Professor Michel Maharbiz, who presented the device at IEEE Custom Integrated Circuits Conference in San Diego this week.


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