Opto-thermal Neural Interface Technology for Neuromodulation

Yoonkey Nam
Dec. 1 11:10~11:45


Optical stimulation technology has become an attractive neuromodulation technique as it has potential benefit to provide high spatio-temporal resolution in controlling individual neurons. In addition, cell targeting is also possible by optogentics or functionalized nanoparticles. In this presentation, I will introduce a novel neural interface technology based on plasmonic nanoparticles that can deliver thermal energy to individual neurons using near-infrared lights. Utilizing the photothermal effect, we discovered that individual action potentials can be reversibly suppressed partially or completely. The neural suppression platform could be implanted by various functional materials and fabrication techniques. I will also show a hybrid electro-optical interface chip fabricated by surface modification and ink-jet printing technique. This new interface opens a chance for neuroscientists and engineers to modulate brain activity without genetic modification.



Yoonkey Nam is an Associate Professor at KAIST, Daejeon, Korea. He received his BS degree from Seoul National University in 1997, and his MS and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in 2003 and 2005. Since 2006, he has been with KAIST, where he is now Associate Professor of Bio and Brain Engineering. His current research interests include application of micro- and nanotechnology in neuroscience, Brain-on-a-Chip technology, electrical and optical neural interface technology, and multichannel neural signal processing.



  • 2005, Ph. D. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Electrical Engineering, 2005. (Advisor: Bruce C. Wheeler)
  • 2003, M.S. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Electrical Engineering, 2003. (Advisor: Bruce C. Wheeler)
  • 1997, B.S. Seoul National University, Electrical Engineering, 1997


Professional Activities

  • 2010-2011, Chair of Academic Program Committee
  • 2008-Present, Editorial board member, International Neurourology Journal
  • 2010-2011, Editorial board member, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
  • 2008-Present, Editorial board member, Journal of Biological Engineering Research


Awards and Honors

  • 2014, Best Paper Award by National Research Foundation & Korean Society of Medical & Biological Engineering
  • 2013, Early Career Achievement Award by The Korea BioChip Society
  • 2011, Young Investigator Award in Biomedical Engineering by Korean Society of Medical & Biological Engineering
  • 2011, Excellent Collaboration in Research by KAIST
  • 2008 Fall, Outstanding Lecturer by KAIST
  • 2008, 2012, 2015, 2016, Outstanding Lecturer by Department of Bio and Brain Engineering