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3D system-on-package (SoP) signal generator to control MEMS movable microelectrode arrays

Description

Microelectrodes have been used as the neural interface to record brain's neural activities. Most of these electrodes are fixed positioned. Neural signal normally degrades over time due to the body immune response and brain micromotion that move the neurons away

Microelectrodes have been used as the neural interface to record brain's neural activities. Most of these electrodes are fixed positioned. Neural signal normally degrades over time due to the body immune response and brain micromotion that move the neurons away from the microelectrode. MEMS technology under SUMMiT VTM processes has developed miniaturized version of moveable microelectrodes that have the ability to recover the neural signal degradation by searching new cluster of neurons. To move the MEMS microelectrode a combination of four voltage waveforms must be applied to four thermally actuated microactuators. Previous design has used OmneticTM interconnect to transfer the waveforms from the external signal generators to the MEMS device. Unfortunately, the mechanism to attach and detach the OmneticTM interconnect introduce mechanical stress into the brain tissue that often caused raptures in the blood vessel. The goal of this project is to create an integrated System-On-Package Signal Generator that can be implanted on the brain of a rodent. A wireless system and a microcontroller are integrated together with the signal generators. The integrated system can be used to generate a series of voltage waveforms that can be customized to drive an array of MEMS movable microelectrodes when a triggered signal is received wirelessly. 3D stacking technique has been used to develop this Integrated System. 3D stacks lead to several favorable factors, such as (a) reduction in the power consumption of the system, (b) reduction in the overall form-factor of the package, and (c) significant reduction the weight of the package. There are a few challenges that must be overcome in this project, such as a commercially available microcontroller normally have an output voltage of 3.3 V to 5.5 V; however, a voltage of 7 - 8V is required to move the MEMS movable microelectrodes. To acquire higher density neural recording, more number of microelectrodes are needed. In this project, SoP Signal Generator is design to drive independently 3 moveable microelectrodes. Therefore, 12 voltage waveform are required. . However, the use of 12 signal generators is not a workable option since the system will be significantly large. This brings us to the other challenge, the limiting size of the rodent brain. Due to this factor, the SoP Signal Generator has to be deisgned to be able to fit without causing much pressure to the rodent's brain. For the first challenge, which is the limited output voltage of 3.3V on the microcontroller, the RC555 timers are used as an amplifier in addition to generating the signals. Demultiplexers have been for the next challenge, which is the need of 24 waveforms to drive 3 electrodes. For each waveform, 1 demultiplexer is used, making a total of 4 demultiplexers used in the entire system, which is a significant improvement from using 12 signal generators. The last challenge can be approached using 3D system stacking technique as mentioned above. The research aims of this project can be described as follows: (1) the testing and realization of the system part, and the designing of the system in a PCB level, (2) implementing and testing the SoP Signal Generator with the MEMS movable microelectrodes, The final outcome of this project can be used not only for neural applications, but also for more general applications that requires customized signal generations and wireless data transmission.

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Date Created
2012

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Wireless 3D system-on-package (SoP) for MEMS movable microelectrode

Description

There is a tremendous need for wireless biological signals acquisition for the microelectrode-based neural interface to reduce the mechanical impacts introduced by wire-interconnects system. Long wire connections impede the ability to continuously record the neural signal for chronic application from

There is a tremendous need for wireless biological signals acquisition for the microelectrode-based neural interface to reduce the mechanical impacts introduced by wire-interconnects system. Long wire connections impede the ability to continuously record the neural signal for chronic application from the rodent's brain. Furthermore, connecting and/or disconnecting Omnetics interconnects often introduces mechanical stress which causes blood vessel to rupture and leads to trauma to the brain tissue. Following the initial implantation trauma, glial tissue formation around the microelectrode and may possibly lead to the microelectrode signal degradation. The aim of this project is to design, develop, and test a compact and power efficient integrated system (IS) that is able to (a) wirelessly transmit triggering signal from the computer to the signal generator which supplies voltage waveforms that move the MEMS microelectrodes, (b) wirelessly transmit neural data from the brain to the external computer, and (c) provide an electrical interface for a closed loop control to continuously move the microelectrode till a proper quality of neural signal is achieved. One of the main challenges of this project is the limited data transmission rate of the commercially available wireless system to transmit 400 kbps of digitized neural signals/electrode, which include spikes, local field potential (LFP), and noise. A commercially available Bluetooth module is only capable to transmit at a total of 115 kbps data transfer rate. The approach to this challenge is to digitize the analog neural signal with a lower accuracy ADC to lower the data rate, so that is reasonable to wirelessly transfer neural data of one channel. In addition, due to the limited space and weight bearing capability to the rodent's head, a compact and power efficient integrated system is needed to reduce the packaged volume and power consumption. 3D SoP technology has been used to stack the PCBs in a 3D form-factor, proper routing designs and techniques are implemented to reduce the electrical routing resistances and the parasitic RC delay. It is expected that this 3D design will reduce the power consumption significantly in comparison to the 2D one. The progress of this project is divided into three different phases, which can be outlined as follow: a) Design, develop, and test Bluetooth wireless system to transmit the triggering signal from the computer to the signal generator. The system is designed for three moveable microelectrodes. b) Design, develop, and test Bluetooth wireless system to wirelessly transmit an amplified (200 gain) neural signal from one single electrode to an external computer. c) Design, develop, and test a closed loop control system that continuously moves a microelectrode in searching of an acceptable quality of neural spikes. The outcome of this project can be used not only for the need of neural application but also for a wider and general applications that requires customized signal generations and wireless data transmission.

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Date Created
2012