Skip to main content

Information Processing by Natural Neural Networks

Objective

Sophisticated information processing is required for the huge amounts of data routinely generated. Taking a cue from nature, this project proposes to combine natural neurons, in themselves highly efficient, parallel processing units, with custom designed microelectronic chips. Cell colonies will be grown on arrays of electrodes, which will serve to both stimulate and record cellular response. Driving circuitry, signal-processing electronics and a microcontroller will be integrated on-chip. Dedicated microfluidics will be used to nourish the cells and provide chemical stimulus. Using spatial image filtering as a model, algorithms and data processing methods will be devised to achieve a trainable, reproducible output upon specific stimulation patterns. This electronic platform represents a new paradigm in information processing, which could overcome the hurdles which have obstructed the development of parallel processing units based on Si alone Sophisticated information processing is required for the huge amounts of data routinely generated. Taking a cue from nature, this project proposes to combine natural neurons, in themselves highly efficient, parallel processing units, with custom designed microelectronic chips. Cell colonies will be grown on arrays of electrodes, which will serve to both stimulate and record cellular response. Driving circuitry, signal-processing electronics and a microcontroller will be integrated on-chip. Dedicated microfluidics will be used to nourish the cells and provide chemical stimulus. Using spatial image filtering as a model, algorithms and data processing methods will be devised to achieve a trainable, reproducible output upon specific stimulation patterns. This electronic platform represents a new paradigm in information processing, which could overcome the hurdles which have obstructed the development of parallel processing units based on Si alone

OBJECTIVES
The overall goal is to establish a novel method of information processing (IP) by combining natural neurons with Si technology. This will be pursued by realizing a prototype of a bioelectronic circuit + establishing its IP capabilities.
The scientific objectives are
(1) establishing direct Si/cell information transfer
(2) achieving reproducible, trainable results upon stimulation of cell colonies
(3) finding IP methods to communicate with cell colonies
(4) processing of analog/digital information by cell colonies
(5) developing new, fast ways to process multidimensional data
(6) using deterministic signal components and the intrinsic noise and variability of neuronal cultures to solve image processing problems
(7) modifying the IP procedure of the neurons by changing boundary conditions
(8) creating a prototype bioelectronic device for image processing.

DESCRIPTION OF WORK
A consortium of 5 partners has been formed, with complementary expertise in:
A) cell cultivation, cell/electrode interface chemistry, nerve signal processing
B) CMOS design of microelectronics and transducer structures
C) fabrication technologies for micro-optics and microfluidics
D) microfluidics, manipulation of liquids in the sub-microliter range
E) data processing algorithms, nerve signal processing.
The technical work is organized into 5 work packages:
1) CMOS and Electronics Design
2) Cell/Silicon Interface
3) Microfluidics
4) Testing and Validation
5) Information Processing (IP).
To achieve the scientific objectives, Work Package (WP) 1-4 will focus on designing and fabricating a bioelectronic platform.
The technological objectives are:
1. Development of a dedicated CMOS microsystem (Realization of bio-compatible CMOS transducer structures for recording and stimulation; Integration of driving/control electronics, data pre-processing and A/D conversion units on one chip,
2. Interfacing wet ware and hardware including cell cultivation (Applying new technology for cell adhesion; Using cell cultures from stem cells),
3. Implementation of an appropriate microfluidic system (Maintaining cell viability;Development of a microfluidic delivery/dosing system for spatially resolved chemical stimulation of colonies),
4. Assembly and testing of the IP chip; Development of a combined CMOS/microfluidic platform to host cell colonies); WP will first assess to what extend the chip may be used for spatial filtering of images, using computer simulation. With the combined CMOS/microfluidic device real tests examining the IP capabilities of the chip will start.
Once the response properties of a single network have been ascertained, more complex systems will be studied. WP6 focusses on the exloitation of the results, WP7 on the Management of the project.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET KAISERSLAUTERN
Address
Gottlieb-daimler-strasse
67663 Kaiserslautern
Germany

Participants (4)

EIDGENOESSISCHE TECHNISCHE HOCHSCHULE ZUERICH
Switzerland
Address
Raemistrasse 101
8092 Zuerich
LEISTER PROCESS TECHNOLOGIES
Switzerland
Address
Riedstrasse
6060 Sarnen
SCUOLA INTERNAZIONALE SUPERIORE DI STUDI AVANZATI
Italy
Address
Via Beirut 4
34014 Trieste
UNIVERSITE DE NEUCHATEL
Switzerland
Address
Avenue Du Premier Mars 26
2000 Neuchatel