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Multi-site optical excitation using ChR2 and micro-LED array

Grossman, N. and Poher, V. and Grubb, M.S. and Kennedy, G.T. and Nikolic, K. and McGovern, B. and Berlinguer Palmini, R. and Drakakis, E.M. and Neil, M.A.A. and Dawson, M.D. and Burrone, J. and Degenaar, P. (2009) Multi-site optical excitation using ChR2 and micro-LED array. Journal of Neural Engineering, 7 (016004).

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Studying neuronal processes such as synaptic summation, dendritic physiology and neural network dynamics requires complex spatiotemporal control over neuronal activities. The recent development of neural photosensitization tools, such as channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2), offers new opportunities for non-invasive, flexible and cell-specific neuronal stimulation. Previously, complex spatiotemporal control of photosensitized neurons has been limited by the lack of appropriate optical devices which can provide 2D stimulation with sufficient irradiance. Here we present a simple and powerful solution that is based on an array of high-power micro light-emitting diodes (micro-LEDs) that can generate arbitrary optical excitation patterns on a neuronal sample with micrometre and millisecond resolution. We first describe the design and fabrication of the system and characterize its capabilities. We then demonstrate its capacity to elicit precise electrophysiological responses in cultured and slice neurons expressing ChR2.