Advanced medical applications that combine biology and electronics

Release date: 2008-06-03

Advanced medical applications that combine biology and electronics. A wireless silicon crystal monitor can be used like an OK stretcher. It can be thrown away after use; another chip is expected to be the first commercial retina replacement. There is also a component for measuring waveforms that can be deeply embedded in the brain. These technological advances are the subject of numerous papers published at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco. These technologies make people more convinced that biology will become the next important electronic application field.
“I recommend that engineers study two disciplines: one is electrical engineering and the other is natural science,” said Mark McDermott, a researcher at the University of Texas. “Many engineers are starting to have a keen interest in medical issues.” McDermott also He has worked as an engineering manager for Freescale and Intel.
In a speech at the ISSCC conference, Arto Nurmikko, a professor of engineering at Brown University in the United States, introduced brain implant designs involving electronics, optics, and anatomy. “This is definitely an interdisciplinary field that includes computer science, engineering, biology, and precision mechanics like Swiss watchmakers,” said Nurmikko.
Chris Van Hoof, a researcher at the Belgian Intercollegiate Microelectronics Center (IMEC), hosted a seminar on life sciences at the ISSCC. He clearly stated at the opening speech: "The interaction between silicon crystals and the human body is becoming more and more close."
In the near future, patients with wireless wearable sensors will not have to go to the hospital to get regular inspection reports from doctors. Hyung Kyu Lim, CEO of Samsung Advanced Technology Research Institute, said in a keynote speech at ISSCC. Healthcare equipment and service robots are the two main emerging consumer products for these new businesses, but the systems that implement these future services are complex and expensive because they require higher machine intelligence. For example, the startup Toumaz Technology introduced a custom chip at ISSCC that puts the wireless monitor on a disposable sticker. The chip is one of a variety of emerging smart wearable components that help patients and consumers get medical monitoring services in a comfortable home.
“We are not only facing a aging society, but the society has not yet established a healthy lifestyle,” said Toumaz’s technical director, Alison Burdett. “There are more and more people suffering from chronic diseases, which will be a global health system. Bring a heavy burden."
A large US healthcare company is said to be working with Toumaz to launch a silicon-based medical patch by the end of 2009. In addition, companies such as the US GE and Philips are said to be launching similar programs in the lab.
To further reduce power consumption and improve reliability, Toumaz has developed custom hardware and protocols for 800MHz to 900MHz wireless networks with components with data rates up to 50kbps. The chip's current during communication is 2.5mA, but its digital control section consumes only 100μw.
"Customized Media Access Controllers (MACs) are key because there is always interference in short-range communications, so we have many buffer layers," Burdett said.
Although the product is custom designed, the price of this patch is expected to be as low as $5 when it is launched next year. The chip size used is 16 square millimeters and is only a fraction of the cost. The chip will be manufactured by Infineon Technologies using a 130nm process.
“When this patch is put into mass production, the cost of silicon chips is really small,” Burdett said. “Most of the cost comes from assembly and manufacturing because it has to adopt a new process.”
The chip can be connected to a sensor to implement an electrocardiograph, a three-axis accelerometer or blood glucose, pH and pressure monitors. Although it can only be measured for one sensor at a time, it can be switched between three sensors.
In the 'L ready-made design, and integrated into the watch or badge, it can be used to record the user's body temperature, as well as a set of daily assessment data on personal mental, physical and social status.
A field test for 200 users shows that even a single sensor helps track subtle pattern changes in everyday life, Hitachi engineers point out. The above monitors are packaged in a module of 30 cubic centimeters and feature a 32-bit H8S processor operating on a ZigBee network.
Silicon Eyes
When it comes to implant technology, Albrecht Rothermel, a professor at the University of Ulm in Germany, introduced a chip that could be the first commercial artificial retina. The university is working with Retina Implant on 1,600 pixels and 3 x 3.5mm arrays.
This component was manufactured from a foundry a few days before Rothermel's presentation and was based primarily on a 1,450 pixel array developed by the Stuttgart Microelectronics Institute (IMS) in Germany. Its CMOS imager has a dynamic range of 170dB and was used to implant many patients in a multi-week hospital experiment.
This artificial retina is manufactured using 0.8μm technology and has a thickness of only 20μm. It uses a wide voltage swing as a retinal stimulus and uses a new power architecture and digital controller to sequentially address the pixels. Rothermel said it can make some blind people feel the reflected light. ——Shanghai Medical Device Industry Association

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