Below is a visual introduction to CLARITY, a physiological process invented by our lab in 2013 that renders an entire mouse brain into a transparent polymer-tissue hybrid that preserves nearly all bio-structural information. CLARITY has been lauded as one of the top recent innovations in neuroscience, as it enables rapid 3D mapping of neural connectivity in intact brains. The technique was recently featured on the cover of the 2016 Scientific American Special Report. The focus of my Ph.D. thesis is to understand how the formation of synthetic material occurs within the tissue, and better understand the chemical relationships and principles that generate the resulting structure. In doing so, I hope to create a body of knowledge that describes how polymer-tissue hybrids can be logically designed, as well as enable others to characterize and quantify properties unique to optically transparent tissue.
The Bao Group is an active contributor to the development of electronic skin (E-Skin). Our E-Skin is stretchable, flexible, and self-healing, and can be integrated with several types of sensors. In a study published in Science in October 2015, we fabricated a flexible sensor that mimics mechanoreceptors in human skin that can sense different levels of pressure, and connected it to neurons in order to demonstrate that it could stimulate life-like responses. This material can be applied to surfaces that require touch feedback sensitivity, such as fingers on a prosthetic hand or tools for robotic surgery. Below is a descriptive video of our project, which was featured by: Time, The Washington Post, Popular Science, Discover Magazine, and MIT Technology Review.
My voice is heard starting at 1:08.