Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Chemical Engineering

Major Professor

Robert D. Frisina, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Venkat R. Bhethanabotla, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joseph P. Walton, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nathan D. Gallant, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Kuhn, Ph.D.


Gold Nanoparticles, Nanoelectrodes, Neural Modulation, Visible Light, Prosthetics


There is a compelling need for the development of new sensory and neural prosthetic devices which are capable of more precise point stimulation. Current prosthetic devices suffer from the limitation of low spatial resolution due to the non-specific stimulation characteristics of electrical stimulation, i.e., the spread of electric fields generated. We present a visible light stimulation method for modulating the firing patterns of electrically-excitable cells using surface plasmon resonance phenomena. In in-vitro studies using gold (Au) nanoparticle-coated nanoelectrodes, we show that this method (substrate coated with nanoparticles) has potential for incorporating the technology into neural stimulation prosthetics, such as cochlear implants, with arbitrarily high spatial resolution. Au nanoparticles (NPs) were coated on micropipettes using aminosilane linkers; and these micropipettes were used for stimulating and inhibiting the action potential firing patterns of SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells and neonatal cardiomyocytes. Our findings pave the way for development of biomedical implants and neural testing devices using nanoelectrodes capable of temporally and spatially precise excitation and inhibition of electrically-excitable cellular activity.