More medical devices are being designed with electronic components that enhance the overall functionality and/or efficiency of the product. It is interesting to theorize where these electronics may take healthcare. For this month's Perspectives, we received a large number of responses so be sure to check out the other Parts of this feature.
Looking ahead, what technology will educe the biggest breakthroughs in electronic medical devices?
Electrical Engineer, Valtronic Technologies
Lasers can be up to 50% efficient and generate multiple watts of power. Lasers though, are especially sensitive to heat (t›30°C) requiring the removal of any heat generated by the light source.
For a laser outputting five watts of light, 10 watts of power has to be delivered, five watts of which are dissipated as heat, which must be removed. Although an aluminum extrusion heat sink appears to be the simplest solution for heat removal, one finds that the heat sink size and air flow required for cooling are large. The heat sink size begins to dictate the finished product's footprint and the fan noise becomes an issue, for example, when in a medical device is used in an office setting.
To minimize the size and noise difficulties, a copper folded fin heat sink provides a practical alternative. At twice the efficiency of aluminum, the copper folded fin (0.05 in. thick) is also "warped" along the airflow, causing increased air contact with the fins. The copper heat sink efficiency allows a reduction in fan air flow, hence a reduction in noise.
Product Line Manager, iCoupler Isolation Products, Analog Devices Inc.
Program Director, IMEC
Advanced packaging solutions and integration technology developed in the microelectronics industry can enable a strong miniaturization of today's implants. In the future, they can bring completely new implants with extra features and on-board intelligence at cost-effective production.
To increase the autonomy and unobtrusiveness of medical implants, technological innovation should focus on:
•Small systems that are mechanically bendable or even stretchable; techniques such as chip-in-wire technology, ultra-thin-chip embedding in flexible and/or stretchable packages, and 3D out-of-plane integration are promising to achieve this.
•Improve the biocompatibility of implants to guarantee long-term operation and to reduce adverse reactions.
•Make the implants autonomous by focusing on low power consumption and energy harvesting so that no batteries need to be replaced.
•Wireless communication of measured data to the outside world.
Chief Wireless Architect, Redpine Signals Inc.
President, OmniVision CDM Optics Inc
The fabrication architecture involves producing thousands of lenses at a time, in contrast to the single or small number of lenses made in a traditional molding or optical grinding process. This method removes much of the complications from handling very small size lenses. The individual lens elements are then combined with layers that act as the aperture stop and filters, resulting in a large array of optical systems. Integration with system-on-a-chip sensors and processors, illumination and communications can be achieved in the same manner, further reducing assembly costs and complexity.
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More medical devices are being designed with electronic components that enhance the overall functionality and/or efficiency of the product. It is interesting to theorize where these electronics may take healthcare.
Micro Molding