Future Applications: Nanotechniques
Precision interaction with the nervous system will require techniques refined to the size of neurons and glia, i.e., approaching the nanometer (10−9 m) level. In this chapter, progress in developing nanoelectrodes for deep brain stimulation—for electrical stimulation and recording, and chemical recording—is reviewed. The advantages of nanoelectrodes over macroelectrodes and microelectrodes are considered, and the role of various fabrication techniques and coatings are noted. Both in vitro research and in vivo research demonstrate the potential of nanoelectrodes for improved precision and efficacy in deep brain stimulation. Cellular—and even intracellular—interaction with the nervous system will become possible, as will monitoring and modulating both electrical and chemical (neurotransmitter) activity. Miniaturization of neuroprosthetic devices to the micron and submicron level will permit minimally invasive techniques that in turn will make the placement of multiple devices (possibly dozens or hundreds) a reality. Aberrant electrochemical activity that is at the heart of many nervous system disorders may be coaxed back to normal by such nanoscale devices.