Advancing New Technology for the Detection of Chemicals in the Brain

Changes in chemical modulation of neural signaling plays a significant role in many neurological disorders. Our goal is to develop new technology to more accurately measure local chemical concentrations to help neuroscientists more accurately study these processes and eventually provide a route to localized treatment.

Micro/nano-fabricated electrochemical sensors have the potential to vastly increase the spatial resolution, making it possible to detect not only the concentration but also the gradient of neuromodulators over localized regions and to measure multiple neurochemicals simultaneously.

I am looking to hire 2-3 students to work on this project this summer. These positions will be available regardless of whether or not in person research is possible this summer (although the work will be different). If in person research is possible, this project will take place in the lab of my collaborator, Michael Roukes, at Caltech. 

Recent research in my group has focused on modeling chemical cross-talk between high density sensors that results in false positive signals and developing experimental strategies to reduce the effects. Focusing on this during the remote learning period has given us new sight and strategies which we hope to implement this summer. 

If in person research is not possible the research will focus on continuing to improve on the simulations undertaken by students in my group last summer to gain further insight as well as some hardware development focused primarily on the modeling and design of a new 3D-printed flow cell that will give us better control in our experimental test system. I also have an electronics focused project that would include printed circuit board design for a high resolution multichannel current amplifier.

There is also a possibility of getting started on the project in the spring semester while receiving course credit for the work. 

Essay Prompt: What interests you most about the project, what do you hope to get out of the research project and how does it fit with your long term goals? 

Name of research group, project, or lab
Why join this research group or lab?

This is a very interdisciplinary project. You will have a chance to stretch your knowledge bridging between very different fields while working as part of a team on closely related projects. You will have the opportunity to work with our collaborators at Caltech and present your results. We hope that by developing new technology for more localized chemical detection in the brain we can inform future studies and treatment.

Representative publication
Logistics Information:
Project categories
Biomedical Engineering
Circuit Design
Student ranks applicable
Student qualifications

This research is accessible for all academic levels. A willingness to bring together ideas from diverse disciplines is essential. 

Time commitment
Summer - Full Time
Academic Credit
Paid Research
Number of openings
Techniques learned

Some skills that you will develop include: numerical/computational methods, modeling of fluid flow, working with CAD software, low noise measurement techniques, sample preparation and handling, and functionalization techniques, as well as low noise electronics and circuit design. Not all of these techniques are applicable to all projects. Projects will be chosen in consultation with the students, taking into consideration each student's experience and interests.

Contact Information:
Mentor name
Jessica Arlett
Mentor email
Mentor position
Visiting Assistant Professor
Name of project director or principal investigator
Jessica Arlett
Email address of project director or principal investigator
2 sp. | 20 appl.
Hours per week
Summer - Full Time
Project categories
Circuit Design (+3)
EngineeringPhysicsBiomedical EngineeringCircuit Design