The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) announced on August 27 that a research team led by Kim Bong-soo, professor of the Department of Chemistry at KAIST, has successfully developed a method to measure the nerve signals of mice with an extremely thin nanoprobe made from gold nanowire.
At 100 nanometers thick, the sensitivity of this nanoprobe is 1,000 times as high as existing ones, and the device can measure the signals of cranial nerves at an interval of less than 1mm. Existing probes detecting nerve signals damage tissues a lot when inserted, and thus detection signals are weak. On the other hand, the newly-developed probe can detect nerve signals much better by minimizing damage.
The device is the most important element in brain research. Probes that detect nerve signals should minimize tissue damage, and also have excellent electrical sensitivity.
The research team heated gold to its vaporization point and then allowed it to condense on a substrate with a lower temperature. Using a few techniques, a single-crystal gold nanowire was created. The nanowire has high electrical conductivity while also being quite strong and flexible as a perfect single crystal.
The team administered a drug that triggers epilepsy in mice, and inserted the nanoprobe into the brains of the mice. After measuring the nerve signals of the mice, the specific area in the brain that causes epilepsy was found. On top of that, it was possible to detect a change in nerve signals resulting from the intrusion of another mouse.
Professor Kim said, “The newly-developed probe can detect, with high sensitivity, signals from a single nerve cell without damaging the nerve cells of the brain.” He added, “I think that it will be useful in making a 3D map of cranial nerves, and it is likely to be helpful in treating dementia and Parkinson's disease as well.”