Canada’s University of Toronto engineering professor Xilin Liu has joined forces with University of Pennsylvania professor Andrew Richardson for the development of new electronic devices for sleep disorders.

Liu and Richardson will work together to develop next-generation devices for studying sleep modulation and creating new interventions to treat several sleep disorders. 

Liu will focus on the development of integrated circuits and systems to advance digital communication, machine learning and healthcare.

Under the collaboration, Liu will build fully integrated wireless systems-on-chips, which can modulate sleep behaviour autonomously in pre-clinical studies. 

Both researchers also intend to integrate various neural interfacing capabilities into the system to facilitate precise interventions.

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The results from this research are expected to support the advancement of neuromodulation technology, which involves the placement of devices inside the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves of a patient.

These devices will also enable the regulation of neural activity and lower symptoms linked to different disorders. 

Recently, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) allocated $2.2m for Liu’s project through the Research Project Grant Programme.

The project is also supported by industry partners, including Open Ephys and Canadian Microelectronics Corporation.

Liu said: “This is a great sign that NIH recognises the value and impact of this research and the calibre of the team.

“We’re excited to receive this funding and over the next four years we hope to get to a stage where the technology can be used in clinical trials.”