Interested in Optogenetics?

Optogenetics uses light to activate (depolarize) or inhibit (hyperpolarize) cells genetically engineered to express light-gated ion channels. In this way, control of a cell’s membrane potential can be controlled by light, allowing fast & precise control only in the cells expressing the light-gated ion channels. Channelrhodopsins (e.g. ChR2) are cation channels that when gated by light will depolarize the cell membrane; halorhodopsin (e.g. NpHR) is a chloride ion pump that can be used to hyperpolarize the cell membrane.

Short ligand exposure time A) RuBi-GABA activation followed by wash-out B) RuBi-GABA activation during perfusion Compound consumption: 7 µL/site. For more info see application report by Boddum 2019

By combining these optogenetic actuators with cell-type specific gene promotors & using viral delivery (e.g. adenovirus), very specific neurons within a neural circuit can be targeted in vivo to define roles & mechanisms in behaviours in live, active animals.

Unsurprisingly this very powerful technique has many applications & would not be hyperbole to say it’s revolutionized neuroscience. Indeed, Nature made it their method of the year for 2010. Barring the Nobel Prize, which is sure to follow, all the main scientific prizes & plaudits have been awarded to Georg Nagel, Peter Hegemann, Ernst Bamberg & Karl Deisseroth, the scientists who invented & developed this technique.

The ability to control membrane voltage by both voltage-clamp & optogenetics on an automated patch clamp platform with the flexibility & potential this may afford researchers was not lost on Sophion. By 2018 we had developed a functional Qube with LED arrays to perform simultaneous voltage-clamp & optogenetic light control of membrane voltage. Using ‘Qube Opto’ we have now produced a book chapter, application reports & presentations.

For more info on how Qube Opto might be used in your research see the links below or contact us at

Ion channel modulation through secondary messenger. Through activation of the photoactivatable adenylyl cyclase, bPAC with 500 ms long light pulses at λ = 475 nm with a frequency of 0.5 Hz, it was possible to increase intracellular levels of cAMP and thereby modifying the co-expressed HCN2 channel. For more info see poster by Schupp et Al 2018

If you are interested in developing new assays, set up collaborations on optogenetics/optopharmacology or have ideas for future work lets talk.