Research and development in industrial scale
During the first semester course "Mixed Signal Electronics in Neuroengineering", students of TUM/ENB Elite Master Program in Neuroengineering study the interaction between neural tissue and electronic circuits and explore tools to record from or to stimulate cells. This all requires a profound knowledge in neuro-physiological aspects and in physical as well as electrochemical properties. The process chain includes neural recording, signal pre-processing such as filtering and amplification, performed on application-specific hardware combining analog and digital domain. During this course, students are tackling challenges in theory and in hands-on lab sessions likewise.
In January 2020, a student of the Elite Graduate Program "Neuroengineering" delegation visited Texas Instrument's European headquarter in Freising. This visit, accompanied by TUM/MSNE associated faculty professors, turned out to be a great opportunity for neuroengineering students to extend their scope towards a more entrepreneurial perspective on semiconductor research and development. The morning session included a presentation on semiconductor manufacturing, followed by several more technology-oriented discussions on next-generation microcontroller technologies and electrochemical sensor development. After a lunch break spent together, TI engineers showed their semiconductor production fab and explained labs for industrial-scale chip testing and characterization in detail.
Neuroengineering students, associated faculty and - quite recently - an international expert’s board reviewing the study program in neuroengineering, all emphasized that events such as excursions and contacts to research-oriented industry are a core asset of the study program.
Eric Ceballos Dominguez, MSNE student and one of the student representatives, summarizes the student visit at Texas Instruments retrospectively:
“Our visit to the Texas Instruments headquarters in Freising allowed us to gain insight into an expertise that is not necessarily taught during our classes in the program: the knowledge of balancing innovative approaches from research with their economic profitability. With the trend in miniaturization of the past century and the era of Nanosystems on the horizon, electronic components are increasingly limited by physical constrains. We learned in Prof. Wolfrum’s classes about electronics on a neurocellular level, and the visit to Texas Instruments gave us a better understanding of the engineering behind the microscopic electronics that we use for our neuro-recording methods.
I personally liked the discussions we had with employees of TI as it made me understand that theory and practical application, while tightly tied together, introduce different sets of challenges and thus require different approaches to solve them. I want to thank Prof. Wolfrum and Texas Instruments for organizing this insightful visit.”
Text: Elite Graduate Program "Neuroengineering"