The core technique of the lab is electrophysiology. Using patch 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.
We stimulate stereocilia hair bundles using custom piezo-electric driven stimulators as seen here. These stimulators allow us to stimulate hair bundles with rise times of ~11µs, the fastest stimulators available in the world. The technology can be adapted to stimulate other mechanical systems as well.
The typical experiment involves patching on to the hair cell and stimulating the stereocilia with these mechanical stimulators as seen below.
Zoom in of hair cell stereocilia stimulated by piezo-electric driven stimulator.