Hair Cell Electrophysiology

The core technique of the lab is hair cell electrophysiology paired with mechanical stimulation. We developed high speed stimulation and measurement methods to better understand how the auditory system functions.

 

Using whole-cell voltage clamp, we are able to record electrically from the sensory cells of the auditory and vestibular system in order to better understand the properties of the ion channels responsible for sound and motion detection.

 

Stiff Probe Stimulators

Glass probes are forged to fit within the stereocilia hair bundle and attached to a custom built piezo-driven stimulator. These stimulators allow us to stimulate hair bundles with rise times of ~11┬Ás, the fastest stimulators reported thus far. The technology can be adapted to stimulate other mechanical systems as well.

 

Fluid Jet Stimulators

A jet of fluid out of a glass pipette can also be used to stimulate the hair bundle. Unlike this stiff probe stimulator which specifies displacements of the hair bundle, the fluid jet specifies force on the hair bundle. We designed a custom fluid jet stimulator that can achieve stimulus rise times of 0.5 ms.

 

High Speed Video Microscopy

We use high speed video microscopy at rates of 10,000 - 50,000 frames per second to track hair bundle motion.

 

Custom Machining for Custom Microscopes

We build custom parts in order to fit our experimental needs. When pushing the limits of technology, turn-key systems are often not available for the type of work we do. We have tools in the lab for making various mechanical and electrical parts; we also have access to a full machine shop.