Philosophers have long mused about the concept of a “brain in a jar”, but thus far, it’s remained the preserve of science fiction rather than reality. However, after reading some scientific papers, [Justin] wanted to attempt the feat himself, so set out to grow some human neurons on an electrode array.
The project builds on [Justin]’s earlier work, using his DC sputtering rig to coat a glass microscope slide with electrodes. The first layer is silver for high conductivity, with an added gold layer for biocompatibility. The screw cap from a Falcon tube is then epoxied on to act as a reservoir for culture media for the neurons. Finally, an air filter is added to allow the biological mixture to breathe.
This was [Justin]’s first attempt at culturing neurons, and there were plenty of hurdles along the way. The custom culture assemblies had issues with the epoxy bonds leaking or failing entirely, leading to only one slide making it through the sterilization process. Additionally, the neurons were accidentally added in too high a quantity. While some growth was observed under the microscope, [Justin] was unable to detect any real signal from the system.
Despite a poor final result, plenty was learned along the way. [Justin] has already put plans into place to fix some of the pitfalls of the original experiment, and we look forward to seeing future updates from the project. Video after the break.