Electrical neuromodulation is a technique used to treat neural disorders such as Parkinson's disease, tremor and dystonia. An invasive neuromodulation system consists of tiny microelectrodes that are implanted in the brain to deliver stimulation pulses to the tissue, and an electrical pulse generator that generates the stimulation pulses and is connected to the electrodes. The efficacy of this technique can be improved by localizing the current delivery into specific populations of neurons and by increasing the power efficiency through a suitable choice of electrode geometrical characteristics. Thus, significant research efforts have been done to find the best electrodes material, shapes and geometrical distributions to achieve uniform current density and power efficiency in localized stimulation. However, localized safe stimulation has not been yet fully demonstrated in high-density neural probes with planar electrodes.
The goal of this master thesis is to design area-efficient programmable integrated circuits for safe current stimulation that can be used together with distributed planar electrodes arrays to create arbitrary stimulation patterns and stimulation steering. The student will be involved in the experimental characterization of different stimulation patterns and waveforms for safe charge delivery, and in the design and simulation of innovative analog circuits in Cadence.
Specific thesis objectives:
- Study and understand the theory behind neural stimulation techniques and safe charge delivery using planar electrodes
- Investigate by means of experiments using off-the-shelf components the possibility of localizing and steering neural stimulation using available neural probes. For this, the design and layout of custom printed-circuit boards (PCB's) will be required.
- Create models of the electrode-tissue interface based on available devices and materials
- Propose, design and simulate programmable stimulation circuits that can be implemented in high-density CMOS neural probes using minimum area
- Interest and enthusiasm in analog microelectronics
- Knowledge of analog IC design principles
- Knowledge of Cadence IC design tools (Spectre, Virtuoso, etc.)
- Basic knowledge of IC layout implementation
- Knowledge of Matlab
- Knowledge of PCB design software (e.g. Altium, Eagle, etc.) is a plus
Type of project: Thesis, Combination of internship and thesis, Internship
Duration: 9 months
Required degree: Master of Science, Master of Engineering Science
Required background: Electrotechnics/Electrical Engineering
Supervising scientist(s): For further information or for application, please contact: Carolina Mora Lopez (Carolina.MoraLopez@imec.be) and Didac Gomez Salinas (Didac.GomezSalinas@imec.be) and Marco Ballini (Marco.Ballini@imec.be)
Imec allowance will be provided.