Die-Packaging Technology Drives Miniaturized Medical Implants

Author: 
Shana Leonard
Microsemi’s die packaging technology has enabled the company to reduce its radio module’s footprint by 75%.

As technology continues to advance at a staggering pace, many active medical implants and consumer electronics are faced with a common design challenge: how to increase functionality and features while maintaining or reducing the finished device’s overall package size. Recognizing this commonality and drawing inspiration from smartphone manufacturing techniques, semiconductor specialist Microsemi Corp. (Aliso Viejo, CA) has developed a die-packaging technology that has reduced the size of its radio module for the medical implants market.

“Smartphones have rapidly increased in terms of the functions and integration that they deliver, yet they haven’t grown substantially in size,” says Martin McHugh, business and technology development manager of advanced packaging at Microsemi. “We’re giving medical device manufacturers access to the same kind of 3-D packaging that the smartphone industry has.”

In an effort to reduce the size of its radio modules and, ultimately, the implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), pacemakers, and neurostimulators into which they are incorporated, Microsemi began to explore the option of embedding the semiconductor within the printed circuit board. “We opted to take what was an existing integrated circuit and make it benefit from the advantages of 3-D chip stacking without actually redesigning the chip,” McHugh says. “The easiest way for us to do that was to actually embed it within the module and then put the additional components on top, and that’s what we’ve done.” McHugh adds that this is the first time, to the company’s knowledge, that this space-saving technique has been applied to commercial medical implant design.

Microsemi’s smartphone-inspired die-packaging technology has allowed the company to reduce its implantable radio module’s footprint by 75%. As a result of this size-reduction technique, the miniaturized module paves the way for the development of devices that boast enhanced functionality without adding real estate. It also aids in the creation of more-compact implants.

Market demand for the miniaturization of medical implants continues to increase because it facilitates the use of less-invasive procedures for implantation, McHugh notes. Smaller incisions, in turn, offer such distinct benefits as faster recovery times, less pain, and a reduced risk of infection at the surgical site, for example. In addition, smaller-profile implants are often less visible or less obtrusive under a patient’s skin, thereby increasing patient comfort and enhancing quality of life.