Foundations Funded Projects


Title: Diamond4Brain | Diamond Photonics Platforms for Synaptic Connectivity Assessment in Healthy and Parkinson Disease Neuronal Models

Project Description

The Diamond4Brain project for the first time shall combine the advances in quantum metrology approaches with the state-of-the-art 2D neuronal signalling research and innovative 3D Parkinson’s Disease model developments, which harbour the potential as early diagnostic tools or testbeds for personalised medicines.

A highly promising quantum metrology technique is based on the fluorescence emission of Nitrogen Vacancy (NV) centers in diamonds, which can be used to assess various physical parameters such as temperature and magnetic field in their nanoscale surroundings. This project aims at developing diamond photonics sensing platforms delivering the quantum sensing units, the NV centers, in close nanoscale proximity to the biological signaling units, the axons of neuronal cells, to obtain a quantum photonic read-out of the neuronal activity and connectivity in 2D and 3D cellular neuronal networks. Three different Diamond4Brain platforms shall be developed and tested i) 1D nanodiamonds for targeting axons, ii) novel 2D diamond platforms with NV center sensing grids, as well as iii) 3D nanodiamond-decorated polymer scaffolds fabricated by nonlinear direct laser writing. The capabilities of the novel Diamond4Brain sensing platforms to pick up the Action Potentials from stimulated neuronal cells, shall be benchmarked by comparison with current state-of-the-art genetically encoded voltage protein Ca+ fluorescence contrast microscopy and micro-electrode array technology.

To validate the technique in neurosciences, we aim to apply the Diamond4Brain sensing platforms to Parkinson Disease models, including newest 3D spheroids and brain organoid models. The access to novel sensing parameters may unravel differences between healthy and Parkinson disease models, opening possibilities for a deeper understanding of the disease, early diagnostics, or a platform for the development of personalised medicines.

Start Date: 31 December 2020

End Date: 30 November 2023

Type: Research project

Contract Number: LCF/PR/HP20/52300001

Funding Agency: La Caixa Banking Foundation and FCT


INL Role: Coordinator (Participant Contact: Jana Nieder)


Budget Total: € 999,981.56

Budget INL: € 480,010.44