Photonic Neuropixels probes for brain reading and writing

Year of award: 2022


  • Prof Matteo Carandini

    University College London, United Kingdom

  • Dr Nicholas Steinmetz

    University of Washington, United States

  • Prof Michael Hausser

    University College London, United Kingdom

  • Dr Sonja Hofer

    University College London, United Kingdom

Project summary

This project will develop, demonstrate and disseminate next-generation photonic Neuropixels probes that can read and write neural activity electrically and optically. Our consortium delivered the original Neuropixels probes, which provide unparalleled abilities to read brain activity. Interrogating the underlying circuits, however, requires optical methods, which currently involve probes that are separate and invasive. Thanks to a pilot funded by Wellcome, we demonstrated that electrical and optical approaches can combine into a single probe. Our first aim is to refine, test and finalise this Neuropixels Opto probe so that it is produced at scale and delivered to the community at cost price. Our second aim is to prototype a new probe called Neuropixels Photo, which can also measure light, allowing unprecedented measurement and control of neural activity deep in the brain. Our third aim is to catalyse the adoption of these new photonic probes by showing that they supplant and surpass existing technologies, allowing transformative applications of brain reading and writing during behaviour. Further, we enable the adoption of the new probes via software and training. The original Neuropixels probes transformed electrophysiology; the new probes will provide a similar advance: a transformative tool for brain reading and writing.