Sensing and stimulating neural activity with light

Neurostimulation has been approved for the treatment of several debilitating conditions. It is one of the fastest-growing areas of medicine owing to its potential as a therapeutic solution. Nowadays, electrical means to stimulate neural tissue or to record compound neural action potentials are still the gold standards for neuroprosthetics and neuromodulation devices. They however have several limitations such as current spreading or MRI incompatibility. 


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                                                Infared optical nerve stimulation             Optical sensing of nerve activity
                                                                                                           through dectection of briefringence changes 


In this project we are studying optical stimulation and sensing techniques that could overcome these limitations for the development of the next generation of minimally invasive, high-resolution implants.


Simon-Pierre GORZA

Joaquin CURY




Antoine NONCLERCQ , BEAMS-department, École Polytechnique de Bruxelles, ULB

Pascal DOGUET, Synergia Medical, Mont-Saint-Guibert, Belgium

Riëm EL TAHRY, Institute of Neurosciences (IONS), Université Catholique de Louvain-Belgium

Jean DELEBEKE, Institute of Neurosciences (IONS), Université Catholique de Louvain-Belgium



Walloon Region, Belgium—Pole Mecatech

Nonlinear microscopy


For decades, optical microscopy has played an important role in the observation of cells in biology. As for all imaging optical system, the spatial resolution of microscopes is however limited. Several new approaches have been developed to overcome this limit, particularly in fluorescence microscopy. We investigated the use of saturation of the two-photon absorption fluorescence excitation for improving the resolution. 

im 1          IM2

   Harmonics in the saturated fluorescence signal                                        Resolution improvement
                for increasing incident power


The saturation of the excitation probability of fluorophores induces a strong nonlinear fluorescence response which can be used to retrieve structural information from a volume smaller than the non-saturated excitation point spread function. 



Simon-Pierre GORZA



Frédérique VANHOLSBEECK , University of Auckland, Department of Physics

Serge GOLDMAN , Service de Médecine nucléaire, ULB-Hopital Erasme



Institut Interuniversitaire des Sciences Nuclaires (IISN)

Updated on February 18, 2022