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/Job opportunities/Wireless high-channel count implantable neurorecording system

Wireless high-channel count implantable neurorecording system

PhD - Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Create the most advanced system for neuroscientific research

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body and, to be able to understand how it works, large-scale in-vivo sensing of neuron populations has emerged as a key research technique. Microfabricated silicon neural probes have been established as the dominant technology in this field and have achieved ever increasing densities and numbers of simultaneous recording electrodes. Imec is the leader in the design and development of CMOS neural probes that achieve minimum probe-shank dimensions, high electrode density and large number of simultaneous recording channels with low-noise and low-power performances. With these probes, it is currently possible to record from many neurons spanning multiple brain regions. However, imec existing neural probes require a part of the chip to remain outside the skull and they are wired to external electronics for data and power. As such, they are currently mostly used for acute neuroscientific experiments.


A solution to surpass these limitations would be to develop a multi-stage system, consisting of 3 main parts:

  • Multiple deep brain implants that are capable of recording and stimulating neural tissue
  • A subcutaneous implantable hub device that interfaces to multiple deep implants and distributes power to each of them
  • An externally wearable battery-powered device that powers the implantable hub and collects all information.


This PhD research will focus on the system-level aspects of such a multi-stage approach. The PhD candidate will be asked to develop and test a complete system suitable for neuroscientific research. The candidate will focus on the design of a complete externally-wearable device and a subcutaneous implant. The main challenges are to develop a suitable wireless powering link as well as a power-efficient high-data-rate wireless link. Since the aim is to engineer the world’s most advanced neuroscientific research tools, there will be a need to transmit neuronal data from 1000s to 10.000s of recording sites. This requires data rates of over 500 Mb/s and total power delivery of around 100 mW. The candidate will further develop a small biocompatible subcutaneous implant that interfaces with the external device and distributes power further via a suitable technology to the deeper implants. The candidate will integrate experimental chip technology currently under development within imec into a complete system that can be deployed for neuroscientific research. This system will be characterized and validated in in-vitro and in-vivo settings through stablished collaborations with neuroscience labs.


Skills and background:

  • System architecting skills – translating high level requirements into implementable system specifications
  • Ability to devise creative solutions based on and going beyond the state of the art
  • System design and implementation (including PCB design)
  • Knowledge of microcontrollers and embedded firmware design as well as programmable logic (FPGA)
  • Mechanical design and rapid prototyping techniques like 3D printing

Required background: Electrical Engineering

Type of work: System and PCB design, microcontroller/FGPA programming, lab testing

Supervisor: Chris Van Hoof

Co-supervisor: Nick Van Helleputte

Daily advisor: Jan Putzeys

The reference code for this position is 2021-087. Mention this reference code on your application form.