Biocompatible ALD materials for medical applications
Picosun has expanded its selection of biocompatible ALD materials to be used in medical applications. HfO2, SiO2, ZrO2, Nb2O5, Ta2O5, AlN and TiN ALD films manufactured by Picosun have been tested and validated by an independent third party to be non-cytotoxic and safe to human tissues in, for example, implant applications.
This wide variety of materials gives great flexibility in designing novel ALD solutions for a plethora of healthcare uses, when the materials can be used either as such, or combined into nanolaminates or doped films with unique, application-wise tailorable physico-chemical properties.
ALD, with its innate ability to create ultra-thin material layers with the highest conformality, uniformity, and structural quality, has enormous potential to solve various key issues in medical applications where implantable devices are involved.
Orthopaedic implants, pacemakers, implantable hearing or eyesight aids, microimplants for sensing, monitoring and analysis applications, and brain or heart probes for therapeutic or diagnostic uses all contain parts that are sensitive to the corrosive environment of the human body. Protective encapsulation of these devices is thus needed to ensure their correct operation, long enough operational lifetime, and also to protect the body from the possible rejection reaction or contaminant leakage from the devices’ corroding parts.
Various polymer layers have typically been used as encapsulants, but their downside is their thickness and robustness which unnecessarily increases the mass and dimensions of the implant.
Compared to polymer encapsulation, ALD offers a truly elegant, sophisticated solution to implant manufacturers. Practically massless and invisible, but still dense, flexible, pinhole- and crack-free ALD thin films cover reliably even the smallest microscale surface features of the coated object, they can be applied at moderate temperatures, and – as now analysed in medical industry’s standard tests – several ALD materials are intrinsically biocompatible.
As ALD is a mature, key enabling technology in semiconductor and microelectronics manufacturing for decades already, the processes and practises for industrial introduction and ramp-up exist, and can be readily applied to new fields as well.
Dr Jani Kivioja, CTO of Picosun Group, said: “Healthcare sector is one of our key strategic directions. Our patented know-how of ALD-based biocompatible protective encapsulation for implantable medical devices has already raised significant interest amongst industry leading companies.
“We are pleased that we have now even wider portfolio of materials and solutions that we can provide to these companies. Not only can our ALD technology solve several challenges these industries are currently facing, but also enable completely new components and devices to realise future’s healthcare inventions.”