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Space Biomedical Engineering Lab

Space biomedical engineering laboratory

Director: Hargsoon Yoon, Ph.D.
Department of Engineering, Norfolk State University
700 Park Avenue, Norfolk VA 23504

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Shelita Hall, a Ph.D. student in the Center for Materials Research (CMR) and a researcher in Space Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, has been selected as a Student Engineering (Doctoral Pathways Trainee) Employee for NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC)’s Human Research program. This program is highly competitive having more than 10,000 applications, considered as one of the hardest US government application processes. She was featured in Special Edition "NASA Exploration" of USA Today. You may find her on Page 68 in this magazine USA Today's 2021 Special Edition.

Real Time Measurement and Analysis of Cognitive Impacts Induced by Extreme Space Environments (Funded by NASA)

NASA is preparing to land humans on Mars by 2039. Astronauts on their way to Mars will be impacted by microgravity, space radiation (SR), and social isolation. A common problem for astronauts, fragmented sleep, can harm complex thinking even more after exposure to space radiation. Our studies are investigating space radiation impacts to the brain function and neural communication for human exploration to deep space. In this project, our researchers investigate the impact that space radiation can affect behavior, sleep, and inflammation and the transmission of information in the nervous system.


Behavioral Study after Cosmic Irradiation

Development of Neurotransmitter Sensing Devices and Systems for Adaptive Neuromodulation (Funded by NASA)

Real-time monitoring of extracellular neurotransmitter concentration offers great benefits for diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders and diseases. This project presents the study design and results of a miniaturized and wireless optical neurotransmitter sensor (MWONS) for real-time monitoring of brain dopamine concentration. MWONS is based on fluorescent sensing principles and comprises a microspectrometer unit, a microcontroller for data acquisition, and a Bluetooth wireless network for real-time monitoring. MWONS has a custom-designed application software that controls the operation parameters for excitation light sources, data acquisition, and signal processing. MWONS successfully demonstrated a measurement capability with a limit of detection down to a 100 nanomole dopamine concentration, and high selectivity to ascorbic acid (90:1) and uric acid (36:1).

We designed and developed the wireless optical sensing system.

Wireless Sensing System Diagram

Custom-designed graphical user interface for the sensor control and sensing data display

Development of Nano-Electrodes Array for Functional Electrical Impedance Tomography in the Brain (Funded by NSF)

Imaging of neuronal activities in the brain is an important aspect of neuroscience, such imaging enhances understanding of the brain structures and function leading to effective diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders. Electrical impedance tomography (EIT) is an emerging medical imaging technique which can produce tomographic imaging of neural activity over milliseconds of the brain using impedance changes with implantable electrodes. It is important to design implantable EIT electrode array for imaging of fast brain activity in deep brain region with electrical impedance tomography (EIT). Design of an implantable EIT electrode is required to meet significant design constraints such as biocompatibility, size, stability, flexibility, and capability of charge injection and sensing. We are are developing iridium oxide coated gold nanowires to reduce impedance and size at the same time while meeting design constraints.

Principle of Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) system
Images of Neural Probes


Reconstructed images using EIT

Real-time Sensing of Glutamate in the Basolateral Amygdala in the Rat Brain across Sleep-Wake States (Funded by NASA)

Glutamate Sensing System Diagram

Sensing Results from Rat Brain across Sleep-wake States

Collaborating Institutions

NASA Langley Research Center (NASA LaRC)
Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS)
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Los Angeles
Johns Hopkins University
University of Colorado Boulder
Old Dominion University (ODU)