Image courtesy of SCHOTT
Implantable devices are advancing at some pretty impressive rates, as devices are quickly becoming more intelligent and versatile. These days implantable devices are designed to not only serve a medical need, but also capture and transmit data in real time. Despite the benefits that some of these features provide, the very nature of this kind of technology can create a challenge when it comes to encapsulating these sensitive components in a device that can survive the harsh conditions of the human body.
That’s where SCHOTT comes in — an international technology group that specializes in hermetic packaging that is specially designed to protect sensitive electronics in medical implants, micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) devices, and other electronic devices. The company announced earlier this month the acquisition of Primoceler Oy, a move that will allow SCHOTT to utilize Primoceler’s pioneering micro bonding method that uses laser technology to manufacture vacuum-tight, ultra-miniature electronic and optical devices without any heat or added materials.
“With the acquisition of Primoceler, SCHOTT strategically enhances its longstanding core competence in the field of hermetic packaging,” said Jochen Herzberg, senior program medical manager for SCHOTT. “Primoceler has developed a technology that enables the direct laser bonding of glass-to-glass or glass-to-silicon. This innovative process allows for the manufacture of highly reliable ‘glass-only’ wafer- or chip-size packages. It has great potential for applications that demand ever smaller, yet extremely reliable packaging concepts, such as medical implants, aerospace or automotive electronics, optical devices, and MEMS devices for the Internet of things.”
Primoceler’s laser bonding technology also has the unique advantage of an extremely small and controlled heat affected zone, allowing it to be used to safely encapsulate any electronic components with extreme heat sensitivities. This opens a world of possibilities for packaging sensitive components into transparent materials like glass, a material that is particularly useful for medical implants given its excellent biocompatibility.
“The major reason to use this technology for implants is because of the fact that any additional material increases the risk of the implant not meeting biocompatibility requirements,” said Ville Hevonkorpi, CEO of Primoceler Oy. “Medical device manufacturers, especially for implants, want to limit the number of used materials for this reason. At the end of development, the complete device needs to be tested for biocompatibility. The material combination used is required to pass tests for cytotoxicity, hemocompatibility, etc., and glass already has a successful track record in implants.”
In addition to the unique laser bonding technology, the process also allows for the creation of specific conditions inside the hermetically encapsulated cavity, including the integration of certain gases, or even a complete vacuum.
The two companies believe that the new biocompatible full-glass micro packages will offer a variety of new possibilities for the next generation of medical implants, such as retinal implants, neuro stimulators, cardiac devices, and blood pressure sensors. With a myriad of exciting new possibilities on the horizon, the two companies are excited about what the future has in store for their new partnership.
“SCHOTT’s position as a leader in the glass industry and hermetic packaging market will expand the reach of Primoceler’s pioneering laser bonding technology across the globe,” Herzberg said. “The two companies will have the combined expertise to take on new electronic packaging challenges from customers, and even tackle completely new applications.”
The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of this year, after which the company will continue to conduct its business operations from Finland under the new name, SCHOTT Primoceler Oy.