I, Cyborg

March of the Cyborgs!

from Sploid

Mankind has taken a giant leap towards perfection with the announcement of the first silicon chip capable of interfacing with neurons in the brain.

With this new development doctors will be able finally to create brain prosthetics to fight neurological diseases. Equally exciting is the prospect of organic computers using human brains cells instead of a crappy old CPU.

Unfortunately, the limitless miracles of man-machines are still far off in the future. For the time being, though, pharmaceutical companies will be able to use the new chips to test drugs.

"Pharmaceutical companies could use the chip to test the effect of drugs on neurons, to quickly discover promising avenues of research," says Professor Stefano Vassanelli, a molecular biologist at the University of Padua in Italy, and one of the partners in the NACHIP project.

Using technology from the Germany's Infineon, Vassanelli and his team placed 16,384 transistors and hundreds of capacitors on a chip just 1mm squared in size. They were able to "glue" the chip in place by using the brain's own proteins.

"They also provided the link between ionic channels of the neurons and semiconductor material in a way that neural electrical signals could be passed to the silicon chip," says Vassanelli.

Transistors on the chip pick changes in the electric charge when a neuron fires. The change is caused by the transfer of charged sodium ions moving in and out of the cells through special pores. Conversely, applying a charge to each capacitor alters the movement of sodium ions, causing a neuron to react.


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