Multifunctional Fiber Probes for Electrical, Optical, and Pharmacological Interrogation of Neural Activity

Technology #16279

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Professor Polina Olegovna Anikeeva
Department of Materials Science And Engineering, MIT
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Professor Yoel Fink
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
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Xiaoting Jia
Department of Materials Science And Engineering, MIT
Andres Canales
Department of Materials Science And Engineering, MIT
Ulrich Paul Froriep
Department of Materials Science And Engineering, MIT
Chi Lu
Department of Materials Science And Engineering, MIT
Christina Tringides
Department of Materials Science And Engineering, MIT
Managed By
Ben Rockney
MIT Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

Methods and apparatus for stimulating and recording neural activity

US Patent Pending 2014-0371564
Multifunctional fibers for simultaneous optical, electrical and chemical interrogation of neural circuits in vivo
Nature Biotechnology, 33, 277–284
Optogenetic Brain Interfaces
Biomedical Engineering, IEEE Reviews, 4, 3-30
Polymer Fiber Probes Enable Optical Control of Spinal Cord and Muscle Function In Vivo
Advanced Functional Materials , 24, 42, 6594-6600


  • Real-time in vivo interrogation and monitoring of neural activity
  • Localized drug delivery to the nervous system
  • Neurostimulation
  • Development of multifunctional neuroprosthetic devices  

Problem Addressed

Research aimed at understanding the brain and nervous system’s activity depends on neural recording devices such as neural probes and implants. Current implanted neurological technologies are highly invasive in their nature and often prompt an immediate inflammatory response, indicating a need for more compact, yet  functional, platforms that are capable of accessing specific parts of the brain in a minimally-invasive manner.


Novel optical fiber probes are designed and fabricated to perform a set of functions that includes monitoring of neural activity, neurostimulation, and the release of therapeutics. The fiber probes are made from polymer and polymer composites, and manufactured using a thermal drawing technique. Thermal drawing, the gold standard in optical fiber manufacturing, allows for fabrication of multimode optical fibers with a custom design that can incorporate a range of materials and functional elements. The fiber probes  have hollow channels for drug delivery, microelectrodes for neural stimulation and a core/cladding configuration for excitation and detection of optogenetic signals in the visible part of the spectrum.


  • Ability to access individual groups of cells and specific parts of the nervous system
  • Possibility for real-time monitoring of neural activity
  • Ability to deliver drugs & therapeutic agents
  • The probes are compact  - all the functional elements are integrated  within  a microstructured optical fiber
  • Minimally-invasive
  • The probes are flexible and can be used to monitor neural activity in a moving animal
  • A robust and inexpensive fabrication method that can be used to fabricate hundreds of meters of optical fiber with desired geometry and functions