A fully passive wireless microsystem for recording of neuropotentials using rf backscattering methods

Helen N. Schwerdt, Wencheng Xu, Sameer Shekhar, Abbas Abbaspour-Tamijani, Bruce C. Towe, F́lix A. Miranda, Junseok Chae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The ability to safely monitor neuropotentials is essential in establishing methods to study the brain. Current research focuses on the wireless telemetry aspect of implantable sensors in order to make these devices ubiquitous and safe. Chronic implants necessitate superior reliability and durability of the integrated electronics. The power consumption of implanted electronics must also be limited to within several milliwatts to microwatts to minimize heat trauma in the human body. In order to address these severe requirements, we developed an entirely passive and wireless microsystem for recording neuropotentials. An external interrogator supplies a fundamental microwave carrier to the microsystem. The microsystem comprises varactors that perform nonlinear mixing of neuropotential and fundamental carrier signals. The varactors generate third-order mixing products that are wirelessly backscattered to the external interrogator where the original neuropotential signals are recovered. Performance of the neurorecording microsystem was demonstrated by wireless recording of emulated and in vivo neuropotentials. The obtained results were wireless recovery of neuropotentials as low as approximately 500 microvolts peak-to-peak (μVpp) with a bandwidth of 10 Hz to 3 kHz (for emulated signals) and with 128 epoch signal averaging of repetitive signals (for in vivo signals).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5993487
Pages (from-to)1119-1130
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Microelectromechanical Systems
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Backscattering
  • biomicroelectromechanical systems
  • neural recording
  • neural telemetry
  • radio frequency (RF) identification (RFID)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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