Networking and interdisciplinary knowledge transfer
Alumni – Interdisciplinary Projects
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CarboChip: High perfor­mance micro-electrodes for retinal implants

Dr. Wadood Haq – Hector Fellow Eberhart Zrenner
Dr. Franz Selzer – Hector Fellow Karl Leo
Hector Fellow Manfred Kappes
Hector Fellow Martin Wegener

In this project the Hector Fellows Manfred Kappes, Karl Leo, Martin Wegener and Eberhart Zrenner worked together with the HFA Postdocs Dr. Wadood Haq (Eberhard Karls Univer­sity, Tübin­gen) and Dr. Franz Selzer (TU Dresden). They devel­oped new micro electrodes based on high tech materi­als to improve the spatial and tempo­ral resolu­tion of neuronal stimu­la­tions. These high efficient electrodes shall be used for retinal implants and shall enhance the eye-sight of blind people.

World­wide millions of people suffer from blind­ness due to degen­er­a­tion of the light sensi­tive photore­cep­tor cells of the retina. To date there are no thera­pies avail­able to cure this progres­sive disease. However, promis­ing results for restora­tion of vision have been achieved in clini­cal trials with electronic retinal implants [Zrenner et al., 2013]. Blind patients with hered­i­tary retinal degen­er­a­tion were enabled to experi­ence some visual sensa­tions again: they local­ized objects of daily life; some of them could even identify large letters.

This inter­dis­ci­pli­nary project aims at optimiz­ing the inter­face of electrode mater­ial and neuron in order to improve tempo­ral and spatial resolu­tion of retinal implants by bring­ing together experts in the field of ophthal­mol­ogy and retinal implants, of novel electrode materi­als as well as of the synthe­sis and struc­tur­ing of such materi­als. The challenge on the one hand is the limited choice of electrode materi­als that are bio-compat­i­ble and on the other hand the high density of differ­ent neurons to be stimu­lated.
This optimiza­tion process will iterate through the loop of three steps:

1. Exper­tise in fabri­ca­tion of highly efficient electrodes (Prof. Leo & Dr. Selzer): To improve the spatial resolu­tion of the implant, the devel­op­ment of micro electrodes is planned.These electrodes will ideally allow the address­ing of single or few retinal cells by electri­cal stimulation.

2. Fabri­ca­tion of conduc­tive 3D microstruc­tures (Prof. Kappes & Prof. Wegener): Not only the size, but also the topol­ogy and the electric conduc­tiv­ity of electrodes have impact on the excita­tion of differ­ent functional cell types of the retina as well as on selec­tiv­ity and safety. Electrode arrays are being devel­oped that are suffi­ciently conduc­tive and that can be struc­tured into three-dimen­sional archi­tec­tures by using laser lithography.

3. Exper­tise of ophthal­mol­ogy and retinal implants (Prof. Zrenner & Dr. Haq): The efficiency and safety of the devel­oped electrodes for neuronal stimu­la­tion will be inves­ti­gated and evalu­ated in the ex-vivo retina of mouse models for retinal degeneration.

The inter­ac­tive feedback between the partners will allow contin­u­ous improve­ment of the electrodes. The final milestone of the project is to incor­po­rate the optimized electrodes in an implant (demon­stra­tor) for improved retinal stimulation.



[Zrenner et al., 2013] "Fight­ing Blind­ness with Micro­elec­tron­ics", Eberhart Zrenner, Science Trans­la­tional Medicine 2013, Vol. 5, Issue 210, pp. 210ps16, DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3007399

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Devel­op­ment of electrodes for a next-gener­a­tion retina implant. The high tech electrodes shall improve the perfor­mance of a subreti­nal implant to partially restore the visual impression.

Dr. Wadood Haq


Dr. Franz Selzer


Future Technol­ogy Organic Electronics

Project "CarboChip" start­ing at 4:45


Super­vised by

Prof. Dr.

Karl Leo


Hector Fellow since 2013Disziplinen Karl Leo

Prof. Dr.

Manfred Kappes

Chemistry & Physics

Hector Fellow since 2009Disziplinen Manfred Kappes

Prof. Dr.

Martin Wegener

Physics & Engineering

Disziplinen Martin WegenerHector Fellow since 2008

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult.

Eberhart Zrenner

Medicine, Biology & Engineering

Disziplinen Eberhart ZrennerHector Fellow since 2012