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May 08, 2006

Nanotubes used for first time to send signals to nerve cells

Thin films of carbon nanotubes deposited on transparent plastic can also serve as a surface on which cells can grow. And as researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) and Rice University suggest in a paper published in the May issue of the Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, these nanotube films could potentially serve as an electrical interface between living tissue and prosthetic devices or biomedical instruments. The group employed two different types of cells in their experiments, neuroblastoma cells commonly used in test-tube experiments and neurons cultured from experimental rats. Both cell types were placed on ten-layer-thick mats of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) deposited on transparent plastic. This enabled the researchers to use a microscope to position a tiny electrode next to individual cells and record their responses to electrical pulses transmitted through the SWNTs.

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