The Michigan Engineer News Center

Mapping the brain with lasers

Yoon is leading a team that will design new light sources with lasers capable of zooming in on individual neuron circuits within the brain. | Short Read
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Individual parts of the brain can be activated and de-activated by shining light on the neurons, and researchers are using this ability to chart how different areas of the brain function. To zoom in on individual neuron circuits within the brain, more precise light sources are needed. Euisik Yoon, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, is leading a team that will design and build these new light sources with a variety of lasers.

The $2 million grant is part of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, a program championed by the White House and administered by the National Institutes of Health. Kensall Wise, the William Gould Dow Distinguished University Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at U-M, and György Buzsáki, the Biggs Professor of Neural Sciences at the New York University School of Medicine are co-investigators.

The project is called “Modular high-density optoelectrodes for local circuit analysis.” Yoon is also a professor of biomedical engineering. Wise is also the J. Reid and Polly Anderson Professor of Manufacturing Technology, a professor of biomedical engineering, and a professor of atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences.

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The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read