Injectable LEDs Send Light Coursing Through Your Brain

Injectable LEDs Send Light Coursing Through Your Brain
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People inject all kinds of unhealthy things into their bodies for fun, but most stick to illegal drugs and stop short at electronics. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible; scientists have developed LEDs so small you can shoot them up, and they literally light up your brain.

Designed by researchers at the University of Illinois, the new tiny LEDs are small enough to fit through the eye of a needle, operate wirelessly, and are flexible for minimum discomfort and danger. You’d never inject these into your arm though. Instead, they’re designed to be brain implants. Many neurons can be activated with bursts of light, and the wireless LEDs could allow for deep brain stimulation without any pesky, invasive electrodes.

John Rogers of the University of Illinois, a co-leader of the team that developed the lights, put it this way to Wired:

Their dimensions are much smaller than those of an optical fibre, and they are much more mechanically compliant. Also, they are powered and controlled wirelessly, in a way that allows free motion of the animals, social interactions and other natural behaviours.

In experiements utilising the probes, researchers were able use the tiny LEDs to stimulate the reward centres of lab rats’ brains creating, in effect, a kind of light-drug. Granted, brain-stimulation is nothing new, and though the injectable LEDs make it much, much easier, clinical application is still far away. But the far flung future of brain implants is apparent in these little guys, and it’s beaming. [Wired]