Nanoscale Optical Neuronal Recording using Nontoxic Quantum Probes

2015 Seed Grant
Lee Bassett, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania

We aim to develop a new class of multifunctional sensors that respond to chemical signals in the brain through quantum physics and that can be probed using light. The sensors are based on atom-scale defects in diamond nanoparticles, which are nontoxic, stable fluorophores harboring electron spins that respond to nanoscale magnetic fields. By attaching molecules to the nanoparticles’ surface that bind neurotransmitters, we aim to make the sensors chemically active, using the diamond spins to transduce dynamical changes in neurotransmitter concentrations into an optical signal. The resulting modular probes can be programmed to respond to specific neurotransmitters and targeted to specific cell types and locations (e.g., within synapses between neurons) to report the real-time activity of large-scale neuronal networks in living animals and, potentially, in humans.

Other Grants

Rebekah C. Evans, Ph.D., Georgetown University
In Vivo and Ex Vivo Dissection of Midbrain Neuron Activity During Exercise
Exercise is important for the health of the body and the mind. Exercise promotes learning and reduces symptoms of brain-related diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. However, it…
William J. Giardino, Ph.D. Stanford University
Deciphering the Neuropeptide Circuitry of Emotional Arousal in Narcolepsy
This research project aims to investigate the neural mechanisms of a specific type of brain cell called neuropeptide neurons within a region of the brain’s amygdala network called the bed…
Howard Gritton, Ph.D., University of Illinois
Attention Mechanisms Contributing to Auditory Spatial Processing.
Our world is composed of a rich mixture of sounds. We often process sounds including speech in the presence of many other competing auditory stimuli (e.g., voices in a crowded…
Nora Kory, Ph.D., Harvard University
Elucidating the Fates and Functions of Lactate in the Brain
The human brain requires significant energy to function. Despite accounting for only 2% of our body weight, the brain consumes a substantial 20% of the body’s energy, relying on a…