Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Biomedical Engineering


Biomedical and General Engineering


College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


Robert B. Szlavik

Advisor Department

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Advisor College

College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


The focus of this thesis was to measure the intracellular voltage of a living neural cell using a silicon transistor. The coupling of neurological tissues with silicon devices is of interest to the fields of neurology, neuroscience, electrophysiology and cellular biology. In previous work by Peter Fromherz, single neurons were successfully coupled to transistors [1]. This thesis aims to show proof of concept of the fabrication of a simple neuro-silicon interface using wafer processing methods currently available at Cal Poly. The types of transistors and cells used, the methods for dissecting and preparing the cells, the electrophysiology methods for validating the experiments, and portions of the design of the junction were based on Fromherz’s 1991 work. Other aspects were revised to be compatible with technologies available at Cal Poly. Leech Retzius cells were isolated and cultured from Hirudo Medicinalis and joined to the gate oxide of a P-channel field effect transistor using SU-8 photoresist wells treated with poly-l-lysine. Transistors were operated in strong inversion and source-drain currentfluctuations were observed that correlated with action potentials of the current clamped Retzius cell. Further work is needed to develop better junctions that can reliably couple action potentials. This work lays a foundation for neuro-silicon interface fabrication at Cal Poly.