Aculight awarded SBIR contract to develop optical cochlear implant

October 17, 2007, Bothell, WA--Aculight Corporation has been awarded a new contract under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to develop an optical cochlear implant (OCI). The $750,000 Phase II award from the National Institutes of Health is funding a joint effort with Northwestern University (Evanston, IL).

"We're laying the foundation for a laser-based cochlear implant that provides users with dramatically improved fidelity over current electrical implants," said Mark Bendett, Aculight's director of medical products. "This Phase II will enable Aculight to produce an OCI that can be used in research studies at Northwestern University prior to developing a model for clinical applications."

A cochlear implant is a neural prosthetic device; an artificial extension of the body that restores lost nervous system function. Current implants work by stimulating the auditory nerve with a string of electrodes placed in the inner ear. But the devices have limitations. Electrical signals spread due to the body's wet, salty composition. This makes stimulating specific nerve populations inside the cochlea challenging. And concurrent electrical pulses in different locations merge with one another, mistakenly stimulating the entire cochlea. While there are techniques to work around the problems, the result is still an imperfect simulation of normal hearing.

Future optically-based cochlear implants could stimulate nerve fibers with unmatched accuracy because optical pulses in different places on the nerve wouldn't interfere with each other. As a result, users could experience a level of hearing unachievable with current technology; one that would allow them to listen to the subtle tones and nuances in music or distinguish a single voice in a noisy room.

"Dr. Claus Richter at Northwestern is a pioneer in optical cochlear stimulation. We know from his research that optical neural stimulation resembles auditory stimulation more closely than electrical does," said Bendett. "This will enable us to better reproduce natural sound in our OCI product. And because an OCI can complement residual hearing, implants wouldn't need to be restricted to the profoundly deaf like they are today. There would be a much larger pool of people that we could help."

Aculight's OCI is a key element in the company's rapidly growing medical platform, which includes Capella™ R-1850, the first infrared neural stimulator. Aculight will feature its neural stimulation technology at Neuroscience 2007 in San Diego, CA, November 3-7.

Most Popular Articles

Webcasts

Femtosecond Lasers – Getting the Photons to the Work Area

Ultrashort-pulse lasers, both picosecond and femtosecond, are now available from a large number of manufacturers, with new players entering the field at a ra...

Ray Optics Simulations with COMSOL Multiphysics

The Ray Optics Module can be used to simulate electromagnetic wave propagation when the wavelength is much smaller than the smallest geometric entity in the ...

Multichannel Spectroscopy: Technology and Applications

This webcast, sponsored by Hamamatsu, highlights some of the photonic technology used in spectroscopy, and the resulting applications.

Handheld Spectrometers

Spectroscopy is a powerful and versatile tool that traditionally often required a large and bulky instrument. The combination of compact optics and modern pa...

Opportunities in the Mid-IR

The technology for exploiting the mid-IR is developing rapidly:  it includes quantum-cascade lasers and other sources, spectroscopic instruments of many...
White Papers

Accurate LED Source Modeling Using TracePro

Modern optical modeling programs allow product design engineers to create, analyze, and optimize ...

Miniature Spectrometers for Narrowband Laser Characterization

In less than 60 years, lasers have transformed from the imagined “ray gun” of science fiction int...

Improve Laser Diode Performance by Reducing Output Cable Inductance using Twisted Pair Cable

The intent of this article is to provide information regarding the performance of twisted pair ca...
Technical Digests

OPTICAL COATINGS: Evolving technology produces new benefits

The antireflection, high-reflection, and/or spectral characteristics provided by optical coatings...

REMOTE FIBER-OPTIC SENSING: Data in abundance from difficult environments

The use of optical fibers to measure strain, temperature, and other parameters at desired points ...

SCANNERS FOR MATERIALS PROCESSING: Serving demanding applications

Galvanometer-based scanners are an essential component in laser-based materials-processing system...

Click here to have your products listed in the Laser Focus World Buyers Guide.

PRESS RELEASES

SCHOTT and Applied Microarrays Establish Distribution Partnership for NEXTERION® Products

01/22/2013 SCHOTT and Applied Microarrays, Inc. have established a partnership for the distribution of SCHOT...

SCHOTT North America and Space Photonics, Inc. Sign Exclusive Licensing Agreement for Covert Communications Technology

01/22/2013 WASHINGTON, D.C.—October 18, 2012—Space Photonics Inc. and SCHOTT North America, Inc. today annou...
Social Activity
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Copyright © 2007-2015. PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK. All Rights Reserved.PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS AND CONDITIONS