A blue light shines through a clear, implantable medical sensor onto a brain model. See-through sensors, which have been developed by a team of UW–Madison engineers, should help neural researchers better view brain activity. JUSTIN WILLIAMS RESEARCH GROUP

See-through sensors from the University of Wisconsin–Madison will provide neural researchers with a better view of brain activity. The scientists hope to use the transparent, implantable micro-electrode arrays in applications beyond neuroscience, including research of stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and cardiac conditions.

In a recent paper, published in the journal Nature Protocols, the UW–Madison team described how to fabricate and use the transparent graphene neural electrode arrays in scenarios such as electrophysiology, fluorescent microscopy, optical coherence tomography, and optogenetics.

"Our technology demonstrates one of the key in vivo applications of graphene,” said Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma, the Lynn H. Matthias Professor and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in electrical and computer engineering.

Ma's group, a leader in the development of flexible electronic devices, patented the technology in 2014, with collaboration from Justin Williams, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in biomedical engineering and neurological surgery. Many research groups then began asking how to create the clear sensors.

“We didn’t want to keep this technology in our lab," said Williams. "We wanted to share it and expand the boundaries of its applications.”