Within the human brain, billions of neurons form complex circuits to transfer electrical, chemical, and mechanical signals. Functional disruption to these circuits often results in debilitating neurological or psychiatric conditions, which burden our aging society.
Despite being orders of magnitude smaller and computationally faster than neurons, conventional substrate-bound electronics fail to match the chemical and mechanical properties of the neural tissue resulting in foreign-body response and formation of insulating glial scars in their immediate proximity. It has been recently recognized that the design of an interface between the brain and a synthetic sensor is a materials science problem.
Consequently, the past 5 years have seen a surge in development of flexible and organic electronics, as well as bio- and nanomaterials aimed at creating multifunctional and minimally invasive probes, suitable for chronic long-term interaction with the neural circuits. The advances in materials chemistry have also enabled novel imaging approaches such as tissue clearing techniques and synthetic activity indicators allowing not only to probe the dynamics but understand the structure of neural pathways.
This multidisciplinary symposium intends to bring together experts from academia and medical devices industry working on electronic, chemical, biological and mechanical aspects of the interaction between the man-made materials and neural tissues. Invited abstracts showcasing applications of specific materials properties to neuronal monitoring and manipulation will promote the discussion between the members of the community inspiring the future development of multi-functional devices.