What processes take place inside a neuron?

Imec’s research focusses on the interface between biological and electronic systems. The Human++ biomedical team designs processes, components, and prototype microsystems for neuro-electronic interfaces that can exchange information – bidirectionally – with electrogenic cells (neurons, cardiomyocytes) through electrical and chemical mechanisms. The lab’s mission is to make the infrastructure available for the interaction between researchers from the fields of molecular biology, medicine, microelectronic engineering and physical sciences. This lab has facilities for cell culture, molecular biology, and electrophysiology, adding to imec’s infrastructure for semiconductor processing, nanotechnologies and biosensor fabrication. More info can be found at Imec’s Human ++ website.

We developed the NeurayII product: a combined digital and analog circuit to evaluate and test IMEC’s neuron-on-chip ASIC. We provided:

  • 6 layer PCB, 100um trace width, 2 power layers, complete analog/digital circuit separation
  • central Cypress microcontroller with hi-speed USB connection to PC (480 Mbit/s)
  • Xilinx Spartan FPGA providing glue-logic with self-coded embedded RISC processor for efficient data routing, filtering, math functions, …
  • 16 MByte RAM memory
  • 16bit ADC/16bit DAC, low noise circuit design
  • signal routing and multiplexing through SMA/SMB outboard connections
  • discrete analog filters
  • PC interface software in C#, hi-speed data communication via USB

We also produced and assembled all PCBs via our subcontractors. This was a ‘first time right’ design!