Active Implants

The working group Active Implants is engaged in the conception, design, development, prototyping and testing of active implants in various fields of application.

Microelectronic medical implants are gaining more and more importance in various fields of medicine. In May 2016, the market research company BBC Research estimated the market for microelectronic medical implants at 24.6 billion US dollars and predicted a growth to 37.6 billion US dollars by 2021 - with an average annual growth rate of 8.8 percent. An important segment of this market is the field of neuromodulation and neurostimulation, which - according to the market research company "Markets and Markets" - is one of the fastest growing segments in medical technology.

In the application field of active implants, a variety of future applications are emerging which are summarized under the keywords "bioelectronic medicine" or "electroceuticals". This means that diseases that have been treated with drugs up to now are to be treated with implanted electrostimulators in the future. These electrostimulators will intervene in the body's signal pathways to control bodily functions.

Active implants are among the most technically complex and risky medical products and place particularly high demands on applied research & development, design, production, testing and approval. Innovations must always be developed with regard to usability, patient safety, reliability over the entire life cycle, biocompatibility and biostability as well as compatibility with other medical devices. In addition to these fundamental requirements, the miniaturization of implants, their efficient and space-saving powering, the wireless exchange of data and energy between implant and extracorporeal unit, but also between implant components, will be of particular importance in the future. Novel approaches, e.g. for stimulating nerves, as well as new technological solutions must be developed in order to enable the variety of future applications.

In order to meet these wide-ranging requirements, the Active Implants working group cooperates closely with other working groups (Biotelemetry, Microsensors & Microfluidics, Neuroprosthetics, Neuromonitoring) and main departments (Ultrasound and Medical Biotechnology) at Fraunhofer IBMT.

We have more than 20 years of experience in the application area of active implants and related fields. We have gained our knowledge both in publicly funded projects and in bilateral industrial projects covering all aspects of the innovation chain from conception & feasibility studies, product design & development to prototyping & testing.

We have experience in various application areas of active implants, such as

  • Dental implants for monitoring, electrostimulation and drug delivery
  • Implants for hydrocephalus therapy that can be controlled wirelessly from outside the body
  • Implants for wireless monitoring of intracranial pressure
  • Implants for various electrostimulation applications
  • Active orthopaedic implants.

We have specific know-how in the following areas:

  • Wireless power supply & data transmission (inductive, RF, ultrasonic, infrared, etc.)
  • Microelectrodes, sensors & actuators
  • Encapsulation & housing of active implants
  • Mechanical & electronic design and development
  • Miniaturization through intelligent electronics design
  • Firmware/software development and signal processing & analysis
  • Cytotoxicity, biocompatibility & biostability testing and in-vitro prediction
  • System aspects & integration
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Regulatory issues.

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