The Big Picture
My research interests include nanobiotechnology, cell-material interfaces, visual neuroscience, and neurodevelopment.
How neurons perform specific computations, such as motion detection, remains an unsolved mystery in neuroscience. For example, direction-selective ganglion cells (DSGCs) in the retina show a strong response to visual stimuli moving in a preferred direction; but show no response to stimuli moving in the opposite direction. DSGCs receive cholinergic and gabaergic inputs from starburst amacrine cells (SACs) interneurons; however, the mechanism through which these help establish direction-selectivity is not well understood. Traditional electrophysiology has only provided limited information since it can lead to voltage-clamping errors and multiplexed, regioselective recordings are difficult to perform. On the other hand, silicon nanomaterials can be fabricated such that their length scale is on the same order of individual synapses. Because of their properties as semiconductors and their nanoscale dimensions silicon nanomaterials can be used as probes for the simultaneous recording and stimulation of multiple dendritic structures. In addition, these materials can be designed as photodiodes for wireless optoelectronic stimulation of retinal neurons.