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Micro and nanoelectronics for medical devices: from cleanroom to brain

  • Name
    Dorothy Hardy
    COG-MHEAR Research Programme Manager

Prof Hadi Heidari gave a talk to the COG-MHEAR teams about his group’s pioneering work in micro and nanoelectronics for use in health applications. This includes implantables to treat conditions such as epilepsy.

He explained that correct material choices are crucial to creating devices that can remain within the body for several months on work they are conducting in their £8M HERMES project. Polymer-based probes are being developed for insertion into the brain to predict and prevent seizures, and this type of material could remain in the body for up to 6 months at a time. The new devices include a chip with data storage plus pre and post-processing capabilities. They are based on a flexible substrate.

Energy harvesting and data transmission are still some of the most challenging issues with implantable devices. Devices for use directly under the skin could potentially be solar powered. In addition, deep implants could be powered using radio frequency (radar) devices.

CROSSBRAIN is an exciting development to enable exploration within the human brain. A microbot (a very small robot) is being designed to travel through the brain whilst communicating with external devices. It incorporates piezoelectric materials within a new type of antenna. The power management unit is within the external device, which helps to minimise the amount of hardware required within the microbot, to keep it small.

Prof Heidari’s work on wearable sensors has potential applications in hearing technology. He explained that sensors could be developed to detect the magnetic fields of muscles and the different types of signals from the heart and brain. This could be used in the diagnosis and monitoring of health conditions. In addition, sensing the movement of eyes is an exciting application that could be used, say, for wheelchair control.

These websites give more information about these exciting fields of work: