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Biomedical Engineering Virtual Circuit Simulation Laboratories

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Unique Laboratory Experiments and Programs Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.316.1 - 12.316.4



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Paper Authors

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Robert Szlavik California Polytechnic State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Biomedical Engineering Virtual Circuit Simulation Laboratories


Circuit simulators, such as SPICE (Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis) are useful tools that can enhance the educational experience of students in many subject areas within a biomedical engineering curriculum. Courses on biomedical instrumentation are venues for which virtual laboratory experiments, using circuit simulators, can be readily developed. The instructor can use the circuit simulation platform to illustrate relatively complex concepts, such as differential amplification, which have wide applicability to biomedical instrumentation.

More advanced courses that focus on the physiology of excitable cells or neural modeling and simulation are also venues for which circuit simulators may be applied to study the dynamics of related physiological models such as the Hodgkin-Huxley model. The equivalent circuit paradigm provides the student with an alternative to developing an understanding of complex physiological models. Application of SPICE based circuit simulators for neural modeling and simulation require the development of excitable membrane equivalent circuit models. Such models have been implemented by the author using SPICE primitive circuit elements in the form of a netlist sub-circuit. More advanced approaches have involved the implementation of neuron models using the SPICE code model paradigm. This alternative approach facilitates the implementation of the neuron model whereby it can be referenced from within a SPICE netlist program in the same way as any other device model would be referenced.

At California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly), students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels are exposed to circuit simulation tools that are integrated into the course content as virtual labs in the biomedical engineering instrumentation course. More advanced courses at CalPoly in neural modeling and simulation also make use of the SPICE circuit simulation platform.

SPICE as a Generic Virtual Laboratory Platform

SPICE is an acronym that stands for Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis. The initial version of the SPICE program was developed in the late 1960s for applications related to integrated circuit design. Several contemporary versions exist, in both the commercial and public domains, with different graphical based programs for developing circuit simulations. A wide range of graphical post processor programs are implemented with the different distributions for visualizing simulation results.

Although the original intent of the designers was to develop a CAD tool for circuit simulation, the program, and its more modern incarnations, may be viewed as a highly efficient nonlinear differential equation solver that can be applied to simulate a wide variety of physical systems. The only practical constraint is that the system under study must have an analogous equivalent circuit representation. For a physical system that is not electrical in nature, the current and voltage terminal variables in the equivalent circuit model are interpreted in the context of the appropriate units for the model. Many physical systems have equivalent circuit analogs such as

Szlavik, R. (2007, June), Biomedical Engineering Virtual Circuit Simulation Laboratories Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2171

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