Speaker Yu-Chong Tai
Affiliation California Institute of Technology
Host Dan Liebling
Date recorded 20 September 2012
My field of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) has advanced tremendously for the last 20 years. Most commercially noticeably, MEMS has successfully advanced from pressure sensors to micro physical sensors, such as accelerometers and gyros, for handheld electronics applications. Less noticeably, however, is MEMS’ contribution to the miniaturization of biomedical implants, especially micro implants. Why micro implants? Our body tissues (especially neurons), once severely damaged, do not repair or regenerate easily, and often leave behind permanent debilitating deficits. Implant technologies to interface intact tissues and/or replace defective functions continues to be a main solution for many diseases. As our world is facing more severe population aging problems, significant growth in new body implants is predicted. In fact, even currently commercial implants also have a lot of room for improvement. For example, cardiovascular and cochlear implants are still bulky, mechanically rigid, power hungry, and functionally limited for delicate and small organs. This talk will discuss our research experience on applying microtechnologies to develop a new generation of micro implants that feature miniaturization, flexibility, ease of use and complex functionality. Examples will be given to include retinal implant, spinal cord implant, Glaucoma drainage device, accommodating intraocular lens, etc. Related materials including materials, biomechanics and biology will also be included.
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