Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have created a tiny sensor that can be implanted directly onto the surface of a nerve. The device, about the size of a grain of sand, does not use a battery as a power source. Instead, ultrasound waves are used to power operation and then read the data collected by the sensor.
This technology, when applied to human physiology, could function like an internal fitness-tracking device for the nervous system, providing data on muscle stimulation, organ function, and nerve impulses in real-time. Since the “neural dust” device, as it has been dubbed, can also be used to stimulate nerves, it has potential electroceutical applications in patients with epilepsy, obesity, and paralysis. Scientists are now designing the next generation of the technology, shrinking it even further for implantation directly in the brain, hoping to bridge the gap between neural pathways and control of smart-prostheses.