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Conference paperAntoniadis DD, Feng P, Mifsud A, et al., 2021,
The lack of open-source memory compilers in academia typically causes significant delays in research and design implementations. This paper presents an open-source memory compiler that is directly integrated within the Cadence Virtuoso environment using physical verification tools provided by Mentor Graphics (Calibre). It facilitates the entire memory generation process from netlist generation to layout implementation, and physical implementation verification. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first open-source memory compiler that has been developed specifically to automate Resistive Random Access Memory (RRAM) generation. RRAM holds the promise of achieving high speed, high density and non-volatility. A novel RRAM architecture, additionally is proposed, and a number of generated RRAM arrays are evaluated to identify their worst case control line parasitics and worst case settling time across the memristors of their cells. The total capacitance of lines SEL, N and P is 5.83 fF/cell, 3.31 fF/cell and 2.48 fF/cell respectively, while the total calculated resistance for SEL is 1.28 Ω/cell and 0.14 Ω/cell for both N and P lines.
Journal articleSzostak KM, Keshavarz M, Constandinou T, 2021,
Advancements in miniaturisation and new capabilities of implantable devices impose a need for the development of compact, hermetic, and CMOS-compatible micro packaging methods. Gold-tin-based eutectic bonding presents the potential for achieving low-footprint seals with low permeability to moisture at process temperatures below 350 compfnC. This work describes a method for the deposition of Au:Sn eutectic alloy frames by sequential electroplating from commercially available solutions. Frames were bonded on the chip-level in the process of eutectic bonding. Bond quality was characterised through shear force measurements, scanning electron microscopy, visual inspection, and immersion tests. Characterisation of seals geometry, solder thickness, and bonding process parameters was evaluated, along with toxicity assessment of bonding layers to the human fibroblast cells. With a successful bond yield of over 70% and no cytotoxic effect, Au:Sn eutectic bonding appears as a suitable method for the protection of integrated circuitry in implantable applications.
Journal articleZhang Z, Constandinou T, 2021,
BackgroundThe progress in microtechnology has enabled an exponential trend in the number of neurons that can be simultaneously recorded. The data bandwidth requirement is however increasing with channel count. The vast majority of experimental work involving electrophysiology stores the raw data and then processes this offline; to detect the underlying spike events. Emerging applications however require new methods for local, real-time processing.New MethodsWe have developed an adaptive, low complexity spike detection algorithm that combines three novel components for: (1) removing the local field potentials; (2) enhancing the signal-to-noise ratio; and (3) computing an adaptive threshold. The proposed algorithm has been optimised for hardware implementation (i.e. minimising computations, translating to a fixed-point implementation), and demonstrated on low-power embedded targets.Main resultsThe algorithm has been validated on both synthetic datasets and real recordings yielding a detection sensitivity of up to 90%. The initial hardware implementation using an off-the-shelf embedded platform demonstrated a memory requirement of less than 0.1 kb ROM and 3 kb program flash, consuming an average power of 130 μW.Comparison with Existing MethodsThe method presented has the advantages over other approaches, that it allows spike events to be robustly detected in real-time from neural activity in a completely autonomous way, without the need for any calibration, and can be implemented with low hardware resources.ConclusionThe proposed method can detect spikes effectively and adaptively. It alleviates the need for re-calibration, which is critical towards achieving a viable BMI, and more so with future ‘high bandwidth’ systems’ targeting 1000s of channels.
Journal articleAhmadi N, Constandinou TG, Bouganis C-S, 2021,
Objective. Brain–machine interfaces (BMIs) seek to restore lost motor functions in individuals with neurological disorders by enabling them to control external devices directly with their thoughts. This work aims to improve robustness and decoding accuracy that currently become major challenges in the clinical translation of intracortical BMIs. Approach. We propose entire spiking activity (ESA)—an envelope of spiking activity that can be extracted by a simple, threshold-less, and automated technique—as the input signal. We couple ESA with deep learning-based decoding algorithm that uses quasi-recurrent neural network (QRNN) architecture. We evaluate comprehensively the performance of ESA-driven QRNN decoder for decoding hand kinematics from neural signals chronically recorded from the primary motor cortex area of three non-human primates performing different tasks. Main results. Our proposed method yields consistently higher decoding performance than any other combinations of the input signal and decoding algorithm previously reported across long-term recording sessions. It can sustain high decoding performance even when removing spikes from the raw signals, when using the different number of channels, and when using a smaller amount of training data. Significance. Overall results demonstrate exceptionally high decoding accuracy and chronic robustness, which is highly desirable given it is an unresolved challenge in BMIs.
Journal articleAhmadi N, Constandinou T, Bouganis C-S, 2021,
OBJECTIVE: There has recently been an increasing interest in local field potential (LFP) for brain-machine interface (BMI) applications due to its desirable properties (signal stability and low bandwidth). LFP is typically recorded with respect to a single unipolar reference which is susceptible to common noise. Several referencing schemes have been proposed to eliminate the common noise, such as bipolar reference, current source density (CSD), and common average reference (CAR). However, to date, there have not been any studies to investigate the impact of these referencing schemes on decoding performance of LFP-based BMIs. APPROACH: To address this issue, we comprehensively examined the impact of different referencing schemes and LFP features on the performance of hand kinematic decoding using a deep learning method. We used LFPs chronically recorded from the motor cortex area of a monkey while performing reaching tasks. MAIN RESULTS: Experimental results revealed that local motor potential (LMP) emerged as the most informative feature regardless of the referencing schemes. Using LMP as the feature, CAR was found to yield consistently better decoding performance than other referencing schemes over long-term recording sessions. Significance Overall, our results suggest the potential use of LMP coupled with CAR for enhancing the decoding performance of LFP-based BMIs.
Conference paperFeng P, Constandinou TG, 2021,
Autonomous Wireless System for Robust and Efficient Inductive Power Transmission to Multi-Node Implants
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>A number of recent and current efforts in brain machine interfaces are developing millimetre-sized wireless implants that achieve scalability in the number of recording channels by deploying a distributed ‘swarm’ of devices. This trend poses two key challenges for the wireless power transfer: (1) the system as a whole needs to provide sufficient power to all devices regardless of their position and orientation; (2) each device needs to maintain a stable supply voltage autonomously. This work proposes two novel strategies towards addressing these challenges: a scalable resonator array to enhance inductive networks; and a self-regulated power management circuit for use in each independent mm-scale wireless device. The proposed passive 2-tier resonant array is shown to achieve an 11.9% average power transfer efficiency, with ultra-low variability of 1.77% across the network.</jats:p><jats:p>The self-regulated power management unit then monitors and autonomously adjusts the supply voltage of each device to lie in the range between 1.7 V-1.9 V, providing both low-voltage and over-voltage protection.</jats:p>
Conference paperToth R, Zamora M, Ottaway J, et al., 2020,
DyNeuMo Mk-2: an investigational circadian-locked neuromodulator with responsive stimulation for applied chronobiology, 2020 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (SMC), Publisher: IEEE, Pages: 3433-3440, ISSN: 0884-3627
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson's disease, essential tremor and epilepsy is an established palliative treatment. DBS uses electrical neuromodulation to suppress symptoms. Most current systems provide a continuous pattern of fixed stimulation, with clinical follow-ups to refine settings constrained to normal office hours. An issue with this management strategy is that the impact of stimulation on circadian, i.e. sleep-wake, rhythms is not fully considered; either in the device design or in the clinical follow-up. Since devices can be implanted in brain targets that couple into the reticular activating network, impact on wakefulness and sleep can be significant. This issue will likely grow as new targets are explored, with the potential to create entraining signals that are uncoupled from environmental influences. To address this issue, we have designed a new brain-machine-interface for DBS that combines a slow-adaptive circadian-based stimulation pattern with a fast-acting pathway for responsive stimulation, demonstrated here for seizure management. In preparation for first-in-human research trials to explore the utility of multi-timescale automated adaptive algorithms, design and prototyping was carried out in line with ISO risk management standards, ensuring patient safety. The ultimate aim is to account for chronobiology within the algorithms embedded in brain-machine-interfaces and in neuromodulation technology more broadly.
Journal articleLuo J, Firflionis D, Turnball M, et al., 2020,
Brain-machine Interfaces (BMI) hold great potential for treating neurological disorders such as epilepsy. Technological progress is allowing for a shift from open-loop, pacemaker-class, intervention towards fully closed-loop neural control systems. Low power programmable processing systems are therefore required which can operate within the thermal window of 2° C for medical implants and maintain long battery life. In this work, we developed a low power neural engine with an optimized set of algorithms which can operate under a power cycling domain. By integrating with custom designed brain implant chip, we have demonstrated the operational applicability to the closed-loop modulating neural activities in in-vitro brain tissues: the local field potentials can be modulated at required central frequency ranges. Also, both a freely-moving non-human primate (24-hour) and a rodent (1-hour) in-vivo experiments were performed to show system long-term recording performance. The overall system consumes only 2.93mA during operation with a biological recording frequency 50Hz sampling rate (the lifespan is approximately 56 hours). A library of algorithms has been implemented in terms of detection, suppression and optical intervention to allow for exploratory applications in different neurological disorders. Thermal experiments demonstrated that operation creates minimal heating as well as battery performance exceeding 24 hours on a freely moving rodent. Therefore, this technology shows great capabilities for both neuroscience in-vitro/in-vivo applications and medical implantable processing units.
Journal articleWilliams I, Brunton E, Rapeaux A, et al., 2020,
Chronic in-vivo neurophysiology experiments require highly miniaturized, remotely powered multi-channel neural interfaces which are currently lacking in power or flexibility post implantation. In this article, to resolve this problem we present the SenseBack system, a post-implantation reprogrammable wireless 32-channel bidirectional neural interfacing that can enable chronic peripheral electrophysiology experiments in freely behaving small animals. The large number of channels for a peripheral neural interface, coupled with fully implantable hardware and complete software flexibility enable complex in-vivo studies where the system can adapt to evolving study needs as they arise. In complementary ex-vivo and in-vivo preparations, we demonstrate that this system can record neural signals and perform high-voltage, bipolar stimulation on any channel. In addition, we demonstrate transcutaneous power delivery and Bluetooth 5 data communication with a PC. The SenseBack system is capable of stimulation on any channel with ±20 V of compliance and up to 315 μA of current, and highly configurable recording with per-channel adjustable gain and filtering with 8 sets of 10-bit ADCs to sample data at 20 kHz for each channel. To the best of our knowledge this is the first such implantable research platform offering this level of performance and flexibility post-implantation (including complete reprogramming even after encapsulation) for small animal electrophysiology. Here we present initial acute trials, demonstrations and progress towards a system that we expect to enable a wide range of electrophysiology experiments in freely behaving animals.
Journal articleRapeaux A, Constandinou TG, 2020,
Objective. This paper describes the design, testing and use of a novel multichannel block-capable stimulator for acute neurophysiology experiments to study highly selective neural interfacing techniques. This paper demonstrates the stimulator's ability to excite and inhibit nerve activity in the rat sciatic nerve model concurrently using monophasic and biphasic nerve stimulation as well as high-frequency alternating current (HFAC). Approach. The proposed stimulator uses a Howland Current Pump circuit as the main analogue stimulator element. 4 current output channels with a common return path were implemented on printed circuit board using Commercial Off-The-Shelf components. Programmable operation is carried out by an ARM Cortex-M4 Microcontroller on the Freescale freedom development platform (K64F). Main results. This stimulator design achieves ± 10 mA of output current with ± 15 V of compliance and less than 6 µA of resolution using a quad-channel 12-bit external DAC, for four independently driven channels. This allows the stimulator to carry out both excitatory and inhibitory (HFAC block) stimulation. DC Output impedance is above 1 M Ω. Overall cost for materials i.e. PCB boards and electronic components is less than USD 450 or GBP 350 and device size is approximately 9 cm × 6 cm × 5 cm. Significance. Experimental neurophysiology often requires significant investment in bulky equipment for specific stimulation requirements, especially when using HFAC block. Different stimulators have limited means of communicating with each other, making protocols more complicated. This device provides an effective solution for multi-channel stimulation and block of nerves, enabling studies on selective neural interfacing in acute scenarios with an affordable, portable and space-saving design for the laboratory. The stimulator can be further upgraded with additional modules to extend functionality while maintaining straightforward programming
Conference paperSavolainen OW, Constandinou TG, 2020,
Predicting single-unit activity from local field potentials with LSTMs, 42nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE-Engineering-in-Medicine-and-Biology-Society (EMBC), Publisher: IEEE, Pages: 884-887, ISSN: 1557-170X
This paper investigates to what extent Long ShortTerm Memory (LSTM) decoders can use Local Field Potentials (LFPs) to predict Single-Unit Activity (SUA) in Macaque Primary Motor cortex. The motivation is to determine to what degree the LFP signal can be used as a proxy for SUA, for both neuroscience and Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) applications. Firstly, the results suggest that the prediction quality varies significantly by implant location or animal. However, within each implant location / animal, the prediction quality seems to be correlated with the amount of power in certain LFP frequency bands (0-10, 10-20 and 40-50 Hz, standardised LFPs). Secondly, the results suggest that bipolar LFPs are more informative as to SUA than unipolar LFPs. This suggests common mode rejection aids in the elimination of non-local neural information. Thirdly, the best individual bipolar LFPs generally perform better than when using all available unipolar LFPs. This suggests that LFP channel selection may be a simple but effective means of lossy data compression in Wireless Intracortical LFP-based BCIs. Overall, LFPs were moderately predictive of SUA, and improvements can likely be made.
Conference paperSavolainen OW, Constandinou TG, 2020,
Lossless compression of intracortical extracellular neural recordings using non-adaptive huffman encoding, 42nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE-Engineering-in-Medicine-and-Biology-Society (EMBC), Publisher: IEEE, Pages: 4318-4321, ISSN: 1557-170X
This paper investigates the effectiveness of four Huffman-based compression schemes for different intracortical neural signals and sample resolutions. The motivation is to find effective lossless, low-complexity data compression schemes for Wireless Intracortical Brain-Machine Interfaces (WI-BMI). The considered schemes include pre-trained Lone 1st and 2nd order encoding , pre-trained Delta encoding, and pre-trained Linear Neural Network Time (LNNT) encoding . Maximum codeword-length limited versions are also considered to protect against overfit to training data. The considered signals are the Extracellular Action Potential signal, the Entire Spiking Activity signal, and the Local Field Potential signal. Sample resolutions of 5 to 13 bits are considered. The result show that overfit-protection dramatically improves compression, especially at higher sample resolutions. Across signals, 2nd order encoding generally performed best at lower sample resolutions, and 1st order, Delta and LNNT encoding performed best at higher sample resolutions. The proposed methods should generalise to other remote sensing applications where the distribution of the sensed data can be estimated a priori.
Journal articleLiu Y, Urso A, Martins da Ponte R, et al., 2020,
The total economic cost of neurological disorders exceeds £100 billion per annum in the United Kingdom alone, yet pharmaceutical companies continue to cut investments due to failed clinical studies and risk . These challenges motivate an alternative to solely pharmacological treatments. The emerging field of bioelectronics suggests a novel alternative to pharmaceutical intervention that uses electronic hardware to directly stimulate the nervous system with physiologically inspired electrical signals . Given the processing capability of electronics and precise targeting of electrodes, the potential advantages of bioelectronics include specificity in the time, method, and location of treatment, with the ability to iteratively refine and update therapy algorithms in software . A primary disadvantage of the current systems is invasiveness due to surgical implantation of the device.
Journal articleDe Marcellis A, Di Patrizio Stanchieri G, Faccio M, et al., 2020,
This article reports an implantable transcutaneous telemetry for a brain machine interface that uses a novel optical communication system to achieve a highly energy-efficient link. Based on an pulse-based coding scheme, the system uses sub-nanosecond laser pulses to achieve data rates up to 300 Mbps with relatively low power levels when compared to other methods of wireless communication. This has been implemented using a combination of discrete components (semiconductor laser and driver, fast-response Si photodiode and interface) integrated at board level together with reconfigurable logic (encoder, decoder and processing circuits implemented using Xilinx KCU105 board with Kintex UltraScale FPGA). Experimental validation has been performed using a tissue sample that achieves representative level of attenuation/scattering (porcine skin) in the optical path. Results reveal that the system can operate at data rates up to 300 Mbps with a bit error rate (BER) of less than 10 −10 , and an energy efficiency of 37 pJ/bit. This can communicate, for example, 1,024 channels of broadband neural data sampled at 18 kHz, 16-bit with only 11 mW power consumption.
Journal articleWang G, Constandinou TG, Tang K-T, 2020,
Conference paperCavuto M, Hallam R, Rapeaux A, et al., 2019,
Neural interfaces, and more specifically ones ofthe invasive/implantable variety, today are a topic of muchcontroversy, often making the general public uncomfortable andintimidated. We have thus devised a bespoke interactive demoto help people understand brain implants and their need inthe age of wearable devices, with the secondary objective ofintroducing the wireless cortical neural probe that we, at NGNI(Next Generation Neural Interfaces) lab, are developing.
Conference paperFeng P, Maslik M, Constandinou T, 2019,
This paper presents a robust EM-lens-enhancedwireless power transmission system and a novel multiple-nodedata communication method for distributed implantable medicaldevices. The proposed techniques can solve the common issuescaused by multiple implanted devices, such as low power transferefficiency through biological tissues, uneven delivered powerfor distributed devices and interference between simultaneouswireless power and data transmission. A prototype system hasbeen manufactured with discrete components on FR4 substrateas a proof of concept. The EM-Lens-enhanced inductive linkscan expand the power coverage of transmitting (Tx) coil from9 mm×5 mm to 14 mm×13 mm, and double the recovered DCvoltage from 1.8 V to 3.2 V at 12.5 mm distance. Data commu-nication is achieved by novel low-power back-scattering CDMAscheme. This permits transmission of data from several nodesall operating with the same carrier frequency simultaneouslyreflecting the power carriers to the primary side. In this paper,we demonstrate simultaneous communication between two nodesat 125 kbps with 1.05 mW power consumption.
Conference paperHsieh B, Harding E, Wisden W, et al., 2019,
Sleep is an important and ubiquitous process that,despite decades of research, a large part of its underlyingbiological circuity still remain elusive. To conduct research inthis field, many devices capable of recording neural signalssuch as LFP and EEG have been developed. However, most ofthese devices are unsuitable for sleep studies in mice, the mostcommonly used animals, due to their size and weight. Thus, thispaper presents a novel 4 channel, compact ( 2.1cm by 1.7cm )and lightweight ( 3.6g ) neural-logging device that can recordfor 3 days on just two 0.6g zinc air 312 batteries. Instead ofthe typical solution of using multiple platforms, the presenteddevice integrates high resolution EEG, EMG and temperaturerecordings into one platform. The onboard BLE module allowsthe device to be controlled wirelessly as well as stream data in realtime, enabling researchers to check the progress of the recordingwith minimal animal disturbance. The device demonstrates itsability to accurately record EEG and temperature data throughthe long 24 hour in-vivo recordings conducted. The obtainedEEG data could be easily sleep scored and the temperaturesvalues were all within expected physiological range.
Conference paperDe Marcellis A, Stanchieri GDP, Palange E, et al., 2019,
A 0.35μm CMOS UWB-inspired bidirectional communication system-on-chip for transcutaneous optical biotelemetry links, IEEE Biomedical Circuits and Systems (BioCAS) Conference, Publisher: IEEE, Pages: 1-4
In this paper we report on the fabrication, implementation and experimental characterization of an integrated bidirectional communication System-on-Chip (SoC) for transcutaneous bidirectional optical biotelemetry links. The proposed architecture implements a UWB-inspired pulsed coding technique and contains a transmitter and a receiver to achieve a simultaneous bidirectional link. The transmitter generates sub-nanosecond current pulses to directly drive off-chip pulsed vertical cavity semiconductor lasers by means of a digital data coding subsystem and all the needed bias and driving circuits. On the other hand, the receiver manages off-chip fast Si photodiodes and includes signal conditioning, detection and digital data decoding circuits to support high bit rate and energy efficient communication links. The entire solution designed at transistor level has been fabricated in AMS 0.35µm standard CMOS technology into a compact silicon footprint lower than 0.13mm2 employing only 113 transistors and 1 resistor. A specific PCB has been developed together with a suitable test bench implemented on Xilinx Virtex-6 XC6VLX240T FPGA board to properly evaluate the performances and the main characteristics of the ASIC. Furthermore, a 6 GHz, 20 GS/s LeCroy WaveMaster 8600A digital oscilloscope has been employed to investigate the system time response. Preliminary experimental results validated the correct functionality of the overall integrated system demonstrating also its capability to operate, also in a bidirectional mode, at bit rates up to 250 Mbps with pulse widths up to 1.2ns and a minimum total power efficiency of about 160 pJ/bit in the conditions for which the transmitter and the receiver work simultaneously onto the same chip. These results make the developed solution suitable for high performances bidirectional optical biotelemetry links to be applied, e.g., to implantable neural recording/stimulation transcutaneous platforms that generally require communication
Conference paperHaci D, Mifsud A, Liu Y, et al., 2019,
The recent evolution of implantable medical devicesfrom single-unit stimulators to modern implantable microsys-tems, has driven the need for distributed technologies, in whichboth the implant system and functions are partitioned across mul-tiple active devices. This multi-module approach is made possiblethanks to novel network architectures, allowing for in-body powerand data communications to be performed using implantableleads. This paper discusses the challenges in implementing suchinterfacing system and presents a platform based on one centralimplant (CI) and multiple peripheral implants (PIs) using a cus-tom 4WiCS communication protocol. This is implemented in PCBtechnology and tested to demonstrate intrabody communicationcapabilities and power transfer within the network. Measuredresults show CI-to-PI power delivery achieves 70%efficiency inexpected load condition, while establishing full-duplex data linkwith up to 4 PIs simultaneously.
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