Multi-site optical excitation using ChR2 and micro-LED array

J Neural Eng. 2010 Feb;7(1):16004. doi: 10.1088/1741-2560/7/1/016004. Epub 2010 Jan 14.


Studying neuronal processes such as synaptic summation, dendritic physiology and neural network dynamics requires complex spatiotemporal control over neuronal activities. The recent development of neural photosensitization tools, such as channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2), offers new opportunities for non-invasive, flexible and cell-specific neuronal stimulation. Previously, complex spatiotemporal control of photosensitized neurons has been limited by the lack of appropriate optical devices which can provide 2D stimulation with sufficient irradiance. Here we present a simple and powerful solution that is based on an array of high-power micro light-emitting diodes (micro-LEDs) that can generate arbitrary optical excitation patterns on a neuronal sample with micrometre and millisecond resolution. We first describe the design and fabrication of the system and characterize its capabilities. We then demonstrate its capacity to elicit precise electrophysiological responses in cultured and slice neurons expressing ChR2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Equipment Design
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Light
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Optical Devices*
  • Optics and Photonics / instrumentation*
  • Optics and Photonics / methods*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Rats
  • Retina / physiology
  • Rhodopsin / genetics
  • Rhodopsin / metabolism*
  • Time Factors
  • Transfection


  • Rhodopsin