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Morgan Technical Ceramics participating in revolutionary DARPA research on high density feed-throughs for medical devices

Tue, 10/23/2012 - 3:46pm
Morgan Technical Ceramics

Morgan Technical Ceramics (MTC) announces that it has been awarded a contract to participate in a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) project with the Biomimetic Microelectronics Systems Centers at the University of Southern California (BMES-USC). The project will develop biocompatible hermetic coatings, high density ceramic feed-throughs, and hermeticity test chips for biomedical microsystems applications. The aim of the research is to develop technology that will enable implanted electronics used in medical devices and other neural stimulation-based prostheses to operate in the body for decades. MTC’s New Bedford, MA site will develop the feed-through, while the Allentown, PA site will apply the special diamond-like coating (DLC) to hermetically seal prosthetic devices for protection from body fluids.

The project will provide a robust hermetic barrier to protect medical implantable electronics, enable high-density, high lead count hermetic feed-throughs to connect to advanced neural interfaces, and provide novel devices and circuits for integrity monitoring.

Current biomedical implants only need a few signal contacts with tissue, while advanced neural prostheses under development may need as many as a thousand, requiring a fundamentally different approach for feed-throughs and encapsulation. The work will include using diamond-like carbon technology from MTC’s Allentown site to provide impermeable and biocompatible insulating coatings, and technology for high density, and high lead count feed-throughs from MTC New Bedford to enable parallel connection to the nervous system. A novel hermetic coating test chip is being developed by BMES-USC, and will include both passive and active sensors to investigate contamination, moisture, and corrosion.

“MTC is proud to be part of this high level, innovative research to help truly miniaturize implantable devices” said Chris Vaillancourt, Medical Products Business Unit Manager. “By dramatically reducing feed-through size while increasing the number of leads, and improving coating longevity and reliability, the innovative research will extend neuromodulation’s promise.”

The project will also directly benefit several Department of Defense-funded DARPA projects, including Reliable Neural-Interface Technology (RE-NET), which is investigating stimulation-based neural prostheses; Restorative Encoding Memory Integration Neural Device (REMIND), which seeks to restore memory through devices programmed to bypass injured regions of the brain; and Revolutionizing Prosthetics (RP3), which has developed advanced prosthetic arms that can be controlled via electronic brain implants.

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