Scientists have brought nanotechnology to neuroscience, using microscopic silicon nanowires to detect, stimulate, and inhibit nerve signals along the axons and dendrites of mammalian neurons (Patolsky F et al. Science. 2006;313:1100-1104).
Established techniques for neuron studies use larger, cumbersome devices that interface with a whole cell or many cells at a time. For example, micropipette electrodes are invasive tools that can harm cells, and microfabricated electrode arrays are too bulky to detect activity at the level of individual neurons.
Hampton T. Nanowires Take On Neuroscience. JAMA. 2006;296(13):1580. doi:10.1001/jama.296.13.1580