PhD - Gent | More than two weeks ago
Be part of the development of highly advanced electronic implants by investigating flexible hermetic encapsulation techniques for mechanical sensing in and powering of long-term implantable devices.
Microsystems are omnipresent in biomedical applications. These consist of one or more chips, sensors, a battery, electrodes, ... and are developed to be used on, close to or even inside the body. In the latter case, measures have to be taken to enable the safe and proper function of the devices in the human body, being in fact an aggressive medium for chips. Hence a biocompatible and hermetic package is needed for such implantable systems. Traditionally, an implantable system is for example placed into a rigid Titanium box (See Fig. 1). Such box is biocompatible and hermetic, offering the ‘safety’ of a well-known package for implants. But such a Ti-box is also rather large and rigid, resulting in a lack of system compactness, discomfort for the patient and higher risk for post-implantation complications. The development of a novel miniaturized packaging technology for implants, optimized for device functionality as well as patient safety and comfort would revolutionize the medical world.
Fig. 1: a pacemaker packaged in a rigid Ti box, before and after implantation.
Imec is strong in its research in the field of implantable packaging technologies for small, flexible, biomimetic packages (Fig. 2) and in the field of advanced mechanical sensors with electrostatic, piezoelectric or optical readout, e.g. pMUTs or OMUS (Fig.3). This PhD will combine these two research domains and develop a suitable advanced packaging technology for mechanical and ultrasound sensors. The envisaged package needs to be biocompatible, biostable, fully hermetic (bidirectional protection against fluid penetration and solid diffusion) and flexible. Finally, the drift of sensor characteristics due to the packaging steps will be studied and calibrated.
Fig 2. Electronic chip and electrical wiring for implantation, fully packaged by ultrathin flexible hermetic encapsulation at CMST / IMEC.
Fig. 3: Test chip containing imec’s new opto-mechanical utrasound sensors (OMUS)
The PhD student will learn to characterize several of imec’s mechanical sensors which are interesting for implantable devices. The student will be trained to master the fabrication of such ultrathin flexible packages and will further adjust the existing package technology in order to obtain optimal results when applied for various types of mechanical sensors. Detailed characterization of the packaged sensors should be performed, with respect to sensor sensitivity, noise, stability over time, device hermeticity, etc.
Required background: Engineering technology, Engineering science, Physics, or equivalent
Type of work: 50% experimental (cleanroom, lab), 10% modelling, 30% characterization and interpretation, 10% theory and literature study
Supervisor: Maaike Op de Beeck
Co-supervisor: Xavier Rottenberg
Daily advisor: Maarten Cauwe, Veronique Rochus
The reference code for this position is 2021-099. Mention this reference code on your application form.