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Micro Transient Electronics

9/24/14 No-one could ever accuse the medical device sector of standing still when it comes to innovative product development, and as manufacturers grapple with the demands of designing and manufacturing “traditional” bioresorbable devices, the drive is on to add power to implantable resorbable devices, which opens up the potential for implantable or ingested products that can undertake therapeutic or diagnostic tasks, and once the desired effect or results have been achieved, dissolve in the body.

Here we are dealing with a relatively new area called transient electronics, and while the potential for such devices in the medical sphere is obvious and has potentially huge positive patient and treatment outcomes, transient electronics have a use in many sectors of industry. In the medical arena we are looking at powered devices that can be implanted in the body to relieve pain or fight infection for a specific period of time. In consumer electronics, transient electronics would mean the advent of products with a predetermined service life. For many involved in the area of micro-electronics and the chip industry — where the struggle has always been to build more and more durable components — the idea of transient electronics is somewhat counterintuitive.

For the devices to work in situ in the body, the electronics are wrapped in bioresorbable materials, the amount of wrapping and the degradation time of the bioresorbable material determining the life-cycle of the product. As the wrapping is dissolved, the electronic connections melt away in a matter of minutes, and the device ceases to function. For many such devices under development, power sources are still external, although research is focused on making and powering devices internally, perhaps through the use of thin and flexible zinc oxide which heats when bent or twisted, which could be controlled by the beating of the heart or movement of muscles.

Such transient electronics work through the use of “man-made” electronic constituent parts (typically high performance electronic systems made from magnesium and magnesium oxide on thin silicone sheets), the breakdown of which has obvious challenges in terms of toxicity and compatibility issues. How much better, then, if the electronics used in such implantable, bioresorbable, powered devices are organic.

MES has considerable experience in dealing with a variety of medical bioresorbables. Bioresorbables demand extremely precise processing controls, and their high relative cost when compared to nondegradable polymers means that manufacturers must use high-yield, low waste molding technologies. MES is one of only a very few micro molding companies that has the experience and knowledge to deal with bioresorbables efficiently.

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