DIAMOND-CONNECT: Advancing Brain Cell Activity Sensing with Quantum Diamond Technology

August 17, 2023

The DIAMOND-CONNECT project aims to use advanced quantum measurement methods for the observation of neuronal signalling.

One promising technique involves using the glow of nitrogen-vacancy centres in diamonds to measure parameters such as temperature and magnetic fields on a tiny scale.

The project plans to create a configuration where these nitrogen-vacancy centres are placed very close to neuronal cells at the surface of the diamond material to read their activity using quantum light signals.

A special laser is used to place these centres in specific locations. INL researchers are optimising this colour centre creation for targeted sensing conditions within a network of brain cells. The diamond platform shall carry a tiny electrode that allows it to electrically stimulate the brain cells locally.

The electrical activity of neurons creates a magnetic field that will be detected by light emitted from nitrogen-vacancy centres in the diamond. Jana Nieder, leader of the Ultrafast Bio- and Nanophotonics research group, explains that “using a powerful microscope for quantum measurements, we will be able to simultaneously observe the signals from all the centres in the diamond grid. This will help us to study the brain cell activity, neuronal communication and potential changes in response to neuronal stimulation or disease patterns.

The DIAMOND-CONNECT project aims to provide a technology for sensing brain cell activity at the sub-cellular level compared to current methods that don’t reach the spatial resolution or specificity needed. The final project will be tested against current neuronal signalling techniques in collaboration with the University of Aveiro.