Setup for wafer-level testing of the 3DNeuroN chips. Photograph: IMMS.
Setup for wafer-level testing of the 3DNeuroN chips. Photograph: IMMS.


Development of a new low-power, low-noise 3d multisensor/actuator array system.

In the project a microelectronic system was developed to three-dimensionally measure neuronal activity and stimulate nerve cells.

In the future, with the novel solution, it should be possible to achieve specific control of the healing of cellular tissues of the central nervous system which have been damaged by trauma or disease.

IMMS together with project partners worked on a new 3-dimensional low-power, low-noise sensor-actuator electrode system. The array is of a tiny (only a few mm3) stack of ten comb-like units containing 800 sensors in total. They are arranged in a tiny space so as to enable any future implants to be kept as compact as possible. In the novel spatial structure, the nerve cells will be able to grow in an almost natural environment, whereas the arrays previously available only supported planar growth. Now, for the first time, the connection between this sensor format and the biological tissue is to be made capacitatively rather than galvanically, to prevent unwanted electrical currents and ensure the bio-compatibility of the array.

IMMS has undertaken the design and production of 3.8 mm wide 80-channel sensor and actuator microchips. They will perform the evaluation of the signals and control of the actuators. Using 10 of these ASICs, it will be possible continuously to receive the signals from all 800 sensors at once, amplifying them at low noise. It will also be possible to stimulate the tissue using extremely low power and thus causing only a minimal rise in temperature to prevent irreversible damage to the nerve cells.

Therefore, IMMS focussed on how to model the biological environment in the form of electrical signals and then on how to connect the evaluation electronics to this environment so that the biological signals might be processed.

  • Funding

    IMMS conducted its research activities as subcontractor to Ilmenau University of Technology, Germany, within the 3DNeuroN project, funded by the EU under reference 296590.


2012 – 2014