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  • Spire to Develop 'Nano' Coatings
Sep 2004
BEDFORD, Mass., Sept. 9 -- Spire Corp. announced it has received a $400,000 Phase I SBIR grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, under the National Institutes of Health Bioengineering Nanotechnology Initiative, to develop nanostructured porous silicon coatings to enhance the biocompatibility of silicon-based neural electrodes, which someday may be used for biological control of prosthetic devices. Success of the Phase I program can lead to a Phase II grant for as much as $1.2 million, the company said.

'Interfacing' the nervous system with electronic devices has long been an exciting possibility for repairing nerve damage. Neuroprosthetics has grown rapidly to include a variety of devices for stimulating peripheral nerve tissue. However, progress on devices that interact with brain tissue has lagged, due to the sensitive response of brain tissue to the electrode. The silicon neural electrodes being developed under this program are engineered with a nanostructured form of silicon, called porous silicon, that acts as a scaffold to reduce glial scarring from electrode implantation and enhances neural growth at brain recording sites to better interface with neurons.

The research will be conducted by Spire Biomedical, a Spire subsidiary. Bandwidth Semiconductor, another Spire subsidiary, will provide semiconductor processing support for the fabrication of the silicon-based neural electrodes. Using a rat brain model, neural electrodes with unique nanostructured surfaces will be designed, implanted and tested in collaboration with Drexel University's School of Biomedical Engineering, under the supervision of Karen Moxon who has been developing microelectrodes for chronic in-vivo recording of single neurons in the brain for the past several years.

Spire Corp. provides products and services to the biomedical, solar energy, telecommunications and defense industries worldwide based upon a common technology platform.

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