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Optical cochlear implant

Cochlear Implant – Micro-LED-Arrays – Optogenetics – Electrical stimulation – Optical stimulation


Cochlear implants based on the direct electrical stimulation of neurons in the ganglion spirale (ganglion cochleare) are among the most successful neural prostheses. However, the number of frequency bands to be addressed, e.g. 22 in commercial systems, as well as the dynamic range of these systems are limited. It is hypothesized that this limitation can be circumvented using optical stimulation of genetically transfected neurons, i.e. an approach enabling a higher spatial and therefore acoustic resolution.

We develop within the BMBF-funded WiVoPro project „Lichthören (hearing with light)„ together with Prof. Dr. U. Schwarz (Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics (FhG-IAF) in Freiburg) an optical cochlear implant. It is based on the process technology of FhG-IAF to realize micro light emitting diodes (µLED). As a project partner, we are responsible for the integration of these µLEDs on flexible substrates and their respective encapsulation.




Fields of Application

  • Cochlear implants

  • Basic research in neuroscience


  • Dr. Patrick Ruther, project leader

  • M.Sc. Michael Schwärzle,Ph.D. student




  • Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics, Prof. Dr. U. Schwarz, project leader of Lichthören

  • Inner Ear Lab, University of Göttingen, Prof. T. Moser


Dr. Patrick Ruther

Email:   ruther@imtek.de

Tel.: +49 (0) 761 203-7197

Fax: +49 (0) 761 203-7192


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