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March 2012 Volume 7 No 3

Action potentials have a central role in the nervous system. Intracellular methods can record these potentials with high signal-to-noise ratios, but they are invasive, whereas extracellular methods suffer from reduced signal strength. In this issue three groups report advances in this field. Lieber and co-workers show that nanowire field-effect transistors can make electrical measurements on biological materials with unprecedented spatial resolution. Cui and colleagues use arrays of vertical nanopillar electrodes to make both intra- and extracellular recordings with excellent signal strength and minimal damage to the cells. And Park and co-workers show that arrays of vertical silicon nanowires can record and stimulate neuronal activity from within mammalian nerve cells, such as the rat cortical cell in this false-colour SEM image, and also study the connections between these cells. The nanowire array is below the cell and cannot be seen in this image (which is 45 μm across).

Letters p174, p180 and p185; News & Views p143

IMAGE: J. T. ROBINSON, M. JORGOLLI, F. FRANKEL AND H. PARK

COVER DESIGN: ALEX WING

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