Smart contact lenses are a very relevant but also very challenging application of advanced microsystem technology. The possible applications are very broad, ranging from the sensing of bodily parameters over dynamic vision corrections to augmented reality applications. Furthermore, the dimensional constraints, bio-compatibility, form factor and flexibility requirements, power budget considerations and optical specifications make this a very multidisciplinary research topic. At imec, research on smart contact lenses is already being conducted by the CMST group, who has built up international recognition on several fronts, including the realization and thermoforming of state of the art stretchable electronic circuits and thin electro-optic components, biocompatible packaging, etc. One of the most challenging research topics concerns the wireless powering of the smart contact lens. In the proposed PhD research topic, the possibility of integrating a high performance flexible solid-state battery into a smart contact lens will be studied. The electrochemical storage group at imec is conducting world-leading research on solid state batteries and already have many years of expertise in the fabrication of thin-film micro-batteries. In this project, you will use this technology and adapt the processes to be compatible for application in a miniaturized, flexible device. You will investigate novel design and integration approaches to increase the capacity and power of the battery. Following the design restrictions of the final application, crescent or ring shaped devices can, for example, be designed. The research will also deal with the aspects of battery cell integration on a polymer carrier that is subsequently embedded in contact lens material, the reliability after molding and repeated flexing, barrier layers to protect the battery from the tear fluid and prevent leakage of hazardous substances towards the eye, etc. The results of this work are going to be used by the CMST group to combine them with the other functional parts to an autonomously operating smart contact lens.
Required background: electronic engineering with affinity to physics and technology, materials science and engineering, nanoscience, nanotechnology and nanoengineering
Type of work: 10% literature study, 10% modeling, 40% design and layout, 40% characterization
Supervisor: Herbert De Smet
Co-supervisor: Philippe Vereecken
The reference code for this PhD position is STS1712-57. Mention this reference code on your application form.