Conventional neurostimulation systems for preclinical research can be bulky and invasive due to the need for batteries or wired interfaces. Emerging as a new neural interface technique, ultrasound-powered piezoelectric neural stimulators work by converting ultrasound energy to electrical charge for neural stimulation. In addition to the benefits of wireless powering and miniaturization leading to less traumatic surgery, piezoelectric neural stimulators can also exhibit prolonged operational lifetimes for a long-term stable neural interface, and show promise for clinical translation. As one of first steps to demonstrate the value of ultrasound-powered piezoelectric neural interface, Li et al. developed a piezoelectric stimulator to activate spinal cord neural circuits for locomotion restoration in a rat model with spinal cord injury (SCI) and compared its efficacy with conventional electrical stimulation (ES). From the point of view of materials science, neural engineering and microelectronics, we provide our commentary on the article, highlighting its importance and discussing the issues that remain to be addressed in future studies in the emerging field of ultrasound powered piezoelectric neurostimulation devices.
School of Medicine