Tiniest-ever LED Probes Could Aid Research in Neurological Disorders


Published Date : Dec 18, 2015

The market for LED lightings, featuring the light emitting diodes-based lights which have revolutionized the global lighting industry by their excellent life span, energy-efficiency, and low heat dissipation, is ripe with technological innovations. The market is known to launch increasingly innovative products that continue to illuminate the excellent features of LEDs and even outshine the benchmark set by earlier versions. The market is highly competitive, mainly due to the heavy investment in research and development activities by key companies in the market and the low-cost and high-life feature of LEDs.

The market has now introduced tiny LED probes that can help scientists understand how neurons in the brain communicate with each other – the one most important thread that needs to be correctly studied to devise any proper cure for neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. In a recent breakthrough in this field, researchers at the University of Michigan developed the smallest LED probes to be ever implanted in a living brain. It is being said that these LED probes can activate individual neurons as well as detect successive responses in the neighboring neurons.

In optogenetics, optical fibers are implanted in the brain and are used to stimulate brain cells by exposing them to light pulses; a second device is used to record how the brain cells react. However, such a setup cannot record the manner in which neurons communicate with each other, the new LED probes are reportedly capable of doing just that.

The size of each of these probes is less than the tenth of a millimeter. Every probe has 12 LEDs that are no larger than the cell body of a neuron, and 32 electrons. Any one of the 12 LEDs can activate a single neuron. The response from other neurons in the surrounding network to the activated neuron is detected by the electrons. The technology has already been used on mice to study how animals develop memories.

This technology is yet another addition to the many innovative products introduced by the LED market in the globe. As LED lighting systems continue to illuminate the globe with their excellent features, it would not come as a wonder if their application in the field of neurological disorder will revolutionize it too.