Probing Biology in the Native State: From Long-Term Brain Electrophysiology to Subcellular Dynamic Imaging

Tue, Feb 23, 2021, 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Electrical and Computer Engineering

Please register here to attend the seminar

Talk recording


The urgency to probe and understand dynamics in biology is impeded by a major engineering challenge. The large dynamic range of biological processes—interactions of molecules within milliseconds result in changes across whole-organisms over years—calls for measurements with both high spatiotemporal resolution and large-scale long-term coverage. However, high resolution measurement often requires frequent and invasive sampling, which limits the spatiotemporal coverage. In this seminar, I will present two independent yet complementary approaches to tackle this challenge. First, I will introduce a new paradigm—syringe-injectable mesh electronics—for seamlessly merging electronics with the mammalian nervous systems. The gliosis-free and interpenetrated brain-electronics interface enables stable recording and stimulation from the same neurons and neural circuits over a year. I will then discuss the application of the mesh electronics to retina electrophysiology in awake mice. Second, I will describe a novel multimodal optical scope with adaptive imaging correction (MOSAIC) to observe subcellular dynamics inside multicellular organisms. I will demonstrate in vivo imaging of various model organisms, including single molecule tracking in embryoid bodies, axonal targeting in Drosophila, cancer metastasis and embryogenesis in Caenorhabditis elegans and zebrafish. Last, I will briefly discuss our ongoing efforts on the development of a five-objective interferometric microscope to achieve real time imaging with sub-100-nm isotropic resolution. Both the electrical and optical approaches opened up new windows to probe dynamics in biology with minimum perturbation and expanded spatiotemporal ranges.


Dr. Tian-Ming Fu obtained his B.S. in Math and Physics from Tsinghua University in 2011. He then came to the US and did his Ph.D. with Dr. Charles Lieber at Harvard University. His graduate work focused on the development of syringe-injectable mesh electronics ( for stable long-term in vivo brain electrophysiology. The mesh electronics open up new windows to track single neuron changes in visual perception, learning and memory in rodent and nonhuman primate. Upon receiving his Ph.D., he joined Dr. Eric Betzig’s lab at Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Research Campus as a postdoc. Dr. Fu developed a multimodal optical scope with adaptive imaging correction (MOSAIC, for 4D high resolution imaging of subcellular dynamics multicellular organisms, including Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila, and zebrafish. Dr. Fu has received recognitions including the Smith Family Graduate Science and Engineering Fellowship and Materials Research Society (MRS) Graduate Student Award. His work has been selected as Top 10 World Changing Ideas by Scientific American and Most Notable Research Advances of the Year by Chemical & Engineering News.