Bio-compatible electrostrictive smart materials for future generation of medical micro-electro- mechanical systems (MEMS)
BioWings is a project funded by the European Commission in the Horizon 2020 framework, under the Future Emerging Technologies (FET) Open programme. It is a Research Innovation Action (RIA) aligned with the key goal of the FET programme: supporting the early stages of science and technology research and innovation around new ideas, towards radically new future technologies.
Starting in June 2018 and for the following 48 months of activities, 7 partners will collaborate to investigate the unique properties of a completely new class of smart actuating materials and facilitate the integration in biocompatible MEMS.
The power of MEMS
Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) are key components of smart biomedical systems, enabling miniaturised devices with diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic functionalities.
Although these systems are poised to revolutionize medical diagnostics and treatment approaches, the slow progress in the development of biocompatible actuator materials used in these devices is still hindering this industry, preventing a host of new biomedical devices to enter the mainstream market.
A new generation of smart materials
BioWings’ main goal is to study, understand and implement a new class of smart actuating materials, based on highly defective cerium oxides, which recently displayed unique properties:
- non-toxicity and environmentally friendliness, unlike the current lead-based actuators;
- exceptionally high and still uncapped electrostrictive response under moderate electric fields, enabling low power consumption devices;
- full compatibility with silicon-based technologies and many other substrates, including metals and polymers.
The project will bring the technology to TRL4, preparing the ground for the industrialisation of a new class of “biomedical MEMS” with increasing geometrical and functional complexity, suitable for a large variety of implantable and/or diagnostic applications.
Moreover, the results will be demonstrated in real biomedical applications: ultrasonic generation (MHz) in microprobes and blood cell sorting for bacteria separation and haematocrit level (HCT) estimation.
BioWings will benefit the overall biomedical industry by pursuing the following key goals:
Substantial decrease in power consumption in active MEMS devices.
Drastic reduction of the form factor, by integrating the materials as thin films into chips.
Drastic reduction in manufacturing, thanks to fast integration with low temperature processing.
Use of nontoxic raw materials, and greener and biocompatible manufacturing processes.