• Understanding Polymer Deformation from Electric Voltages May Lead to More Durable Materials

    Researchers at Duke University (Durham, NC) have discovered a method by which they can observe the real-time degradation of soft polymers caused by repeated exposure to electrical currents. This capability, according to the researchers, could aid in the development of more-durable polymers for applications in which they come into contact with electrical currents.Common in polymers used for insulation in wires, cables, and capacitors, for example, this polymer breakdown was observed thanks to a...
  • Palm-Size Superconducting Magnet Could Help Shrink MRI Machines

    Small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, a new superconducting magnet could be used to develop mobile MRI equipment.Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is crucial for performing a range of medical diagnostic applications, but the size and cost of the superconducting magnets and cooling systems used in MRI equipment make the machines stationary and expensive. Now, researchers at Japan’s Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI; Tokyo) have developed a superconducting magnet system that can...
  • Microcamera May Pave the Way for Disposable Endoscopes

    A camera the size of a grain of salt may enable the development of disposable endoscopes. (Image: Fraunhofer Institute)A manufacturing process developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration (Berlin) has yielded a microcamera the size of a grain of salt. Measuring just 1 × 1 × 1.2 mm, the miniature camera has a resolution of 62,500 pixels and can fit at the end of an endoscope. Moreover, it is inexpensive enough to produce that it could enable the...
  • Breakthrough Claimed in SiPM Technology

    Excelitas Technologies (Waltham, MA), a supplier of customized optoelectronics to OEMs, has announced that it has achieved record results for high photon detection efficiency (PDE) and low dark counts in the development and commercialization of its solid-state silicon photomultiplier (SiPM) technology. SiPMs are an important element in the company's low-light-level detection (L3D) suite of technologies and products targeting the medical market.Silicon photomultipliers offer very high PDE, ultra...
  • First Complete Millimeter-Scale Computing System Could Lead to Glaucoma Monitor

    A prototype implantable eye-pressure monitor for glaucoma patients is believed to contain the first complete millimeter-scale computing system. And a compact radio that needs no tuning to find the right frequency could be a key enabler to organizing millimeter-scale systems into wireless sensor networks.Both technologies are being developed by professors Dennis Sylvester and David Blaauw at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). Targeted at medical applications, their work is focused on a...
  • Bulk Metallic Glass Boasts Strength of Metal, Processing Ease of Plastic

    A team of researchers at Yale University (New Haven, CT) has developed bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) that it claims couples the strength and durability of metal with the processing ease and cost of plastics. If commercialized, BMGs could someday potentially provide design flexibility to medical devices without compromising mechanical strength.While traditional metals are characterized by their orderly, crystalline structure, the BMG alloys feature randomly arranged atoms, according to Jan...
  • Can We Achieve the Revision-Free Implant?

    I attended an interesting conference session at the MD&M West trade show last month in which speaker Paul Wooley, research director at the Center of Innovation for Biomaterials in Orthopaedic Research at Wichita State University, asked: Can we achieve the revision-free implant? While the concept might not be ideal for OEMs' business, the notion of a long-lasting, durable hip or knee implant is an undeniably exciting prospect for patients. And it might not be a pipe dream, according to...
  • Biologically Inspired Touch and Flow Sensors May Impact Medical Device Design

    Nature is once again influencing medical device design. Led by Chang Liu, a professor of mechanical and electrical engineering and computer science at Northwestern University, a multidisciplinary team is developing biologically inspired touch and flow sensors based on artificial hair cells. If realized, the sensors could enhance such products as catheters for minimally invasive procedures and artificial cochlea.“The hair cell is interesting because biology uses this same fundamental structure...
  • Miniaturization Could Lead to Injectable Pacemaker

    An injectable, miniature pacemaker is being developed by Medtronic based on microelectronics and chip manufacturing techniques. (Photo courtesy of Medronic)Here's a story that just came across my desk: It's about a miniature, injectable pacemaker that could hit the market in five years.As reported in MIT's Technology Review, medical device giant Medtronic (Minneapolis) is developing a miniature pacemaker based on microelectronics and chip manufacturing that will be smaller than a Tic Tac. The...
  • Liquid Metal Simplifies Creation of Electrodes for Microfluidic Devices

    Researchers from North Carolina State University (NC State; Raleigh) have developed a faster, easier way to create microelectrodes for use in microfluidic devices by using liquid metal. The technology could be used in such diagnostic applications as blood-testing devices.“By making it easier to incorporate electrodes into microfluidic devices, we hope to facilitate research and development into new technologies that utilize those devices, such as biomedical tools,” says Michael Dickey, an...
  • In Case You Missed It: MD&M West in Review

    This year's MD&M West trade show and its co-located events provided a cornucopia of product launches, educational presentations, and medical device engineering advice. Luckily, you're not out of the loop if you didn't attend the show or missed something amid the endless aisles of the massive show floor. For your convenience, we've rounded up coverage by MPMN and several of our sister publications to bring you the best of MD&M West below.Five Medical Device Technologies that Point to the...
  • Validation Software Reduces Labeling Errors, Ensures Traceability

    In response to customer demand for one low-cost platform supporting traceability and validation, Via Information Tools (Naples, FL) launched ValiPack software at the MD&M West show earlier this month. Based on the company's Man-IT traceability software, ValiPack software validates each packaged unit for label compliance to avoid such issues as nonconformance penalties.Mislabeled product usually results from misidentification of the product at the point of packaging, according to the company...
  • 2 + 2 = Knee Cap

    A computationally generated view of a topology-optimized design for a porous bone implant scaffold. The linking of computational design with precision fabrication has potential for producing tissue scaffolds with tailored properties. (Image courtesy of Vivien Challis, School of Mathematics and Physics, The University of Queensland)A team of mathematicians from The University of Queensland (St. Lucia, Australia) has helped design a prototype for a new generation of bone implants that could...
  • Aluminum Oxide Coating Protects Aluminum Medical Devices

    After undergoing a 12.5-pH cleaning and sterilization process 10 times, an anodized aluminum sample without the Micralox coating (left) shows more corrosion than a sample with the coating (right). (Photo courtesy of Business Wire)An aluminum oxide coating has been developed for finishing aluminum medical devices. Offered by Sanford Process Corp. (SPC; Woonsocket, RI), the Micralox coating creates a microcrystalline barrier that produces a long-lasting, virtually indestructible surface,...
  • Antithrombogenic Polymer Membrane Inhibits Platelet Adhesion

    Tokyo-based Toray Industries Inc. has developed a polymer membrane that can reduce the attachment of blood platelets to its surface. Derived from nanotechnology and molecular chemistry, the new technology offers hope for antithrombogenic materials, whose surface performance tends to decline when exposed to blood components. The new membrane can be applied to products such as catheters and artificial kidney dialysis machines.“A big feature of this membrane is that you can apply it to all sorts...
  • Trading in Body Parts at MD&M West

    Synthetic tissue models offer a realistic testing alternative to the use of live animals and cadavers.One of the busiest booths at this year's MD&M West in Anaheim featured body parts—not real ones, of course, but synthetic ones made by SynDaver Labs (Tampa, FL). Soft and cold to the touch, a range of virtual body parts—including blood vessels, internal organs, and even a nearly complete skinned cadaver—filled metal lab trays.Why all the gore? SynDaver offers synthetic body parts as...
  • Micromolding of PEEK: It Can Be Done

    Although molding PEEK has historically been challenging, micromolding can, in fact, produce both simple and complex geometries using the material without extra cost, according to Scott Herbert, president of micromolding specialist Rapidwerks Inc. (Pleasanton, CA). In a presentation at the recent MD&M West conference sessions, Herbert spoke about "Precision Micromolding of PEEK Components" as well as associated benefits, obstacles, and considerations.Characterizing a micromolded part as...
  • Medical Device Assembly: LED- Vs. Lamp-Based Technologies

    Which is better for medical device assembly: A lamp-based UV spot-curing system or an LED-based one? "The answer to that depends on your process, the parts you're joining, and the application," says Mike Kay of Lumen Dynamics (Mississauga, ON, Canada). In his presentation, "High-Throughput, Low-Temperature UV Assembly of Medical Devices" at the MD&M West Innovation Briefs Theater last week, Kay addressed the pros and cons of each technology.LED systems are up-and-comers of sorts, according...
  • Simple and Precise Hydrogel Sensor Could Be Used for Glucose Monitoring

    New type of biological and chemical sensor based on hydrogel works by determining pH. The microscopic images at bottom show how the hydrogel stripes expand with decreasing acidity. (Photo courtesy of Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University)Researchers at Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN) are developing a new type of biological and chemical sensor that has few moving parts and is highly sensitive, sturdy, and long-lasting. Capable of determining pH, the sensor could be used in...
  • Color Blind: Why You Shouldn't Treat Color as an Afterthought in Device Design

    Clariant's Mevopur masterbatches are produced in ISO 13485-certified facilities.The use of color in a medical device can provide market differentiation and an attractive aesthetic that can appeal to consumers or discerning doctors, depending on the end use. But there’s more to color for medical device applications than meets the eye, according to George Pape, medical device and healthcare market manager at Clariant Masterbatches (Holden, MA). At MD&M West this past week, Pape and his...