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Micro/Nano Systems

Micro/nano-systems have become increasingly prevalent over the past decade. Today, they serve as a key enabling technologies for a wide range of portable and wearable applications that were unimaginable in the past century, from environmental monitoring to, more recently, personal health monitoring. Micro/nano systems also show incredible promise as tools in studies of brain and behavior, allowing novel experimental studies as well as new treatment approaches at the point of care.

The UMD campus is home to a number of well-regarded micro/nano systems research groups, in departments including Mechanical Engineering, Bioengineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering. Many are actively pursuing biological or healthcare applications, and some are already focusing on brain and behavior. One such group is working on an integrated point-of-care microsystem to monitor adherence, efficacy, and safety in schizophrenia treatment, a project fitting well within the BBI theme of mental health. Another example is a project on 2D mapping nucleic acids in tissue samples, which will allow novel investigations of changes and differences in neural circuits. Work is also being done on directed drug delivery to deep brain tumors utilizing nanoparticles and magnetic fields.

Harnessing the expertise of UMD’s micro/nano systems expertise, and focusing it on Brain and Behavior challenges, would yield significant advancements across all relevant areas, including: mental health, neural circuits, motor control, learning, plasticity, sensation, perception, and communication. The efforts would yield new patient-centered, accessible, portable technologies for better diagnosis and treatment, as well as an enhanced understanding of the biological bases of neurological disorders.