Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) represent a great opportunity for paralyzed people to regain parts of their mobility, for example by controlling exoskeletons. However, current concepts for the realization of BCIs have major weaknesses: The sensors used do not achieve the necessary sensitivity or are not suitable for everyday use. The joint project NeuroQ is working on a new approach to overcome these weaknesses with the help of diamond-based quantum sensor technology. This technology should enable paralyzed people to control an exoskeleton with much greater precision than before under everyday conditions, thus making an important contribution to their social inclusion and medical rehabilitation.
The project partners are using nitrogen-vacancy centers in synthetic diamond to develop novel laser threshold magnetometers for use in BCIs. These magnetometers detect the undisturbed magnetic fields of the human brain instead of the highly attenuated electric fields, resulting in clearer measurement signals. After their development and integration into a compact and movable measurement module, the magnetometers will be tested in clinical applications for the use of a BCI in humans. The project goal is to implement the control of an exoskeleton with the new sensors on a patient and to demonstrate the advantages of the new sensors.