Making a Cyborg Brain
Have you ever wondered how cyborgs brains would work, well research scientists are taking us one step closer to figuring that out. Research done by scientists in Italy and Switzerland has shown that carbon nanotubes may be the ideal "smart" brain material.
Why are these tubes being used?
Well, research shows that carbon nanotubes, which, like neurons, are highly electrically conductive, form extremely tight contacts with neuronal cell membranes. Unlike the metal electrodes that are currently used in research and clinical applications, the nanotubes can create shortcuts between the distal and proximal compartments of the neuron, resulting in enhanced neuronal excitability.
Who did this research?
The study was conducted in the Laboratory of Neural Microcircuitry at EPFL in Switzerland and led by Michel Giugliano (now an assistant professor at the University of Antwerp) and University of Trieste professor Laura Ballerini.
What could the tubing be used for? (In the real world, and not this authors sci-fi addled brain)
"This result is extremely relevant for the emerging field of neuro-engineering and neuroprosthetics," explains Giugliano, who hypothesizes that the nanotubes could be used as a new building block of novel "electrical bypass" systems for treating traumatic injury of the central nervous system. Carbon nano-electrodes could also be used to replace metal parts in clinical applications such as deep brain stimulation for the treatment of Parkinson's disease or severe depression. And they show promise as a whole new class of "smart" materials for use in a wide range of potential neuroprosthetic applications.
If you want to know more you can check out the published work in the December 21 edition in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Nanotechnology,