A focus of the research activities of the Biomedical Microsystems Department lies in the field of active implants. In recent years there have been many enquiries from industry with regard to the development of active implants that can communicate with an extra-corporeal device. Usually, a wireless energy supply to the implant was also required. On the one hand, a wide range of commercial ASICs are now available for wireless communication, which allows, in particular, progressive miniaturization of the implants. On the other hand, it is becoming increasingly apparent that for active implants in particular, specific communication concepts are necessary in order to fulfil the specifications required by the customers, the regulative requirements and also the general conditions dictated by physics. In order to fulfil all the needs of our customers we use synergies between the working groups Active Implants, Microsensors & Microfluidics and Biotelemetry as well as the competences in the main department Biomedical Engineering in the theme areas of neuroprosthetics and neuromonitoring. Last year we were able to set a milestone in the field of energy and data transmission to implants: cooperation with the main department Ultrasound of the Fraunhofer IBMT led to the development of an ultrasound-based energy and data transmission system for active implants which has certain advantages compared with electromagnetic transmission systems. A demonstrator shown at the MEDICA trade fair received a great response from the expert audience.
The portfolio in the area of active implants will be expanded in the future with regard to biocompatibility and biostability testing of implants, and secure wireless communication with implants based on cryptographic methods.
Another focus area of the department is the development of cell-based biosensors and bioassays. Here the department has many years of know-how in the fields of miniaturization, production and integration of sensor and fluidic systems on the basis of silicon, glass or synthetic material. Alongside the conventional methods of microsystems engineering (lithography, thin-film technology, etching technology) we are increasingly using roll-to-roll processes which are suitable for mass production at low manufacturing costs. This includes the roll-to-roll hot embossing of microfluidic structures, the printing of electrically conductive structures such as for example graphene structures, as well as the printing of protein structures on the micrometre scale with a self-developed protein ink. Rotogravure and flexography techniques are available for printing. Current research projects are aimed at printing entire biosensors.
© Photo Fraunhofer IBMT, Bernd Müller.