Neuroscience, also known as neurobiology, is the scientific study of the nervous system. It is a multidisciplinary branch of biology that combines anatomy, cytology, physiology, developmental biology, mathematical modeling, molecular biology, and psychology to understand the fundamental and emergent properties of neurons and neural circuits.
One of the important challenges of neuroscience is the understanding of causal links between neural activity and behaviour. Singapore NTU – School of Biological Sciences is carrying out advanced research involving Optoelectronic probes (OEPs).
This technique allows the researchers to record hundreds of neurons inside a mouse brain through the utilization of fine optical fibres. The series of chronic recordings can be made for either freely moving or head-fixed mice.
To successfully perform the experiment, extremely precise tools have to be fabricated to place the lenses and optical fibres in the correct spots. The challenge for the team was in finding a manufacturing technology that will enable them to correctly place the probes on a micro level inside the brain of the mice.
Working with ECS, the 3D Systems ProJet MJP 2500 printer and biocompatible VisiJet M2R-TN material were chosen for this research. ProJet MJP 2500 offers a broad range of biocompatible materials and the ability to print in high resolution (16-micron layers) successfully printed the parts in the required accuracy.
The 4 main intricate parts, that require the correct fitting, chosen for this research using ProJet MJP 2500 printer were :
- The Hat
- The micro-drive
- The OEP support
- The micro-drive handle
With some sections of the parts having walls as thin as 200 microns, the geometry of those parts is deemed extremely challenging for many printing technologies including those of photopolymerization.