Our research focuses on providing theoretical foundations and engineering innovations for realizing electronics that seamlessly integrate with the body. Such systems will allow precise recording or perturbation of physiological processes for advancing basic scientific discovery; and restoring or augmenting biological functions for clinical applications. Although advances in semiconductor technology enable micro-scale devices, nearly all existing systems for recording or modulating electrical activity in the body require large power supplies or communication components tethered, often through a lesion in the skin, in overall configurations that do not permit natural behavior or prolonged use. At the scale of a millimeter, wireless devices have not been demonstrated because of severe challenges in miniaturizing energy storage or harvesting components, but such systems could address a broad need for minimally invasive diagnostic and therapeutic technologies.
The main thrust of our research program aims to address these obstacles through fundamental understanding of power transfer physics with advances in low-power integrated circuits in order to demonstrate the insertion of fully operational sensors, electrodes, light sources, and other electronics deep inside the body. An array of these tiny probes enables measurement or perturbation of physiological parameters in previously inaccessible locations and over long time periods, leading to immediate applications, including programmable optogenetic stimulation and intracardiac mapping for monitoring electrical activity in the brain and heart. More far-reaching applications are to embed these tiny probes with stem-cell-based tissue to build artificial organs. Our research program therefore involves close collaborations with biologists and clinical specialists to realize these applications with the overall goal of advancing basic biomedical research as well as developing new diagnostic and therapeutic tools.