publicado em 06/07/2012 às 19h10:00
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Chip replaces human body parts for electronic equipment

Material developed at USP uses silicon carbide, a material that does not cause adverse reactions in the body

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Researchers from the Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science (ICMC), USP, São Carlos, will develop implantable chips that allow the replacement of body parts for electronic equipment, with the use of silicon carbide, a material that does not cause adverse reactions in the body.

The study design and manufacture of implantable chips using biocompatible materials for advanced cybernetic interfaces, approved without Frontiers Science Program, the federal government, in the category Special Guest, ICMC includes a partnership with the University of South Florida (USF), in the United, for exchange of scientists and graduate students in the area of ​​biocybernetic.

The brain-machine interfaces have assist life of about 200,000 disabled people worldwide. The research of the ICMC will try to go further. According to Professor Mario Gazziro, the ICMC, an author of the project, the two great challenges of biocybernetic are compatibility of the material used in manufacturing the chip with the body and the energy expended by the electrode inside the chip. While an artificial retinal implant, which helps visually impaired enxergarem again, uses 20 to 30 electrodes, the chip implanted directly into the brain via the motor cortex and tactile necessary to replace members of the body by fully cybernetic components, use about 100 electrodes, increasing the power consumption.

Also according to Gazziro, the issue of biocompatibility was addressed by Professor Stephen Saddow, USF, which participates in the project as a visitor. The material used to manufacture the electrode array chip was composing the silicon, which caused, among other problems, infection when implanted in the brains of rats used as subjects who, though not harm the host, causing a process neural scarring around the electrode. Therefore, some of them stopped working altogether or lost much of its functionality a few months after deployed.

The team Saddow studied various semiconductor materials, to find that the silicon carbide (SiC-3C) had the properties required for the development of cerebral inteface. Thirty days after implantation, the 3C-SiC did not cause big problems for neural tissue of guinea pigs.

Professor Dilvan de Abreu Moreira, Department of Computer Science at ICMC, is the technical coordinator of the project. Besides him, the teacher also participate Carlos Carlos Alberto dos Reis Filho, Federal University of ABC (UFABC), Claudius Feger, the IBM Research Center of São Paulo, besides the USF professor, a world reference in biocybernetic. ICMC will visit three times during two months each, over the three years of research. On the first visit, Saddow minister talks about his area of ​​expertise for graduate students and the campus of the ICMC USP in São Carlos.

Miguel Nicolelis <b> </ b>

Gazziro Second, the study complements the various researches in the area made by the Brazilian physician and scientist Miguel Nicolelis. The researchers involved in the project visit the facilities of the International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal (RN), directed by Nicolelis, and UFABC, where researchers will receive advice on the design of the analog part of the chip, made by Professor Reis Filho, electronics specialist analog.

To close the first working visit Saddow, an event titled Workshop on Advanced Cibernetics will be held on August 10. In the first phase we will present the project and details of the partnership, says Professor Gazziro. During the first phase, the team of scientists to produce a chip encapsulation and traditional, to the end of the project will be a model of wireless chip. We will chip traditional wired only for testing. The second stage is to produce the wafer, ie a part of the fabricated chip set and the last stage, to get an antenna coupled to the electrode and already explained.

According to the teacher, the solution of bio-chip can be used in suits, sort of artificial skeletons made of sturdy metals that expand the physical capacity of people with disabilities. Suffice it to the reader of the signs of the chip to send the commands captured in the brain for these exoskeletons replace the role of the non-functional points. IBM, the American multinational computer science, has shown interest in the project because, according Gazziro, if the experiment succeeds, it will be necessary to industrialize the process of making chips with silicon carbide, generating any patents on the final product.

Also coordinate the project teachers Agma Juci Machado Traina and Sergio Henrique Soares Monari, respectively president and vice chairman of the Graduate ICMC. The team is also integrated by professors John Navarro Soares Junior, School of Engineering of Sao Carlos (EESC), Eduardo Simoes Valley, Department of Computer Systems at ICMC and Cleber Renato Mendonca, Institute of Physics of São Carlos (IFSC ) USP.

Source: USP
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