MRS Fall 2013 highlights – part four

In symposium K (Micro- and nanoscale processing of material for biomedical devices) Orlando Auciello, the current MRS president and founding scientist of Advanced Diamond Technologies, updated the audience on commercial applications of ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) coatings.

UNCD coatings are of great interest in the biomedical sector as they protect implants from degrading inside the body, and their smooth surface and low co-efficient of friction makes them a good match for artificial knees and hips.

Another key factor is the low-deposition temperature (350 – 400 degC), which means that the processing steps don’t destroy CMOS devices. In other words, you can coat detector arrays with UNCD and it stops saline from reacting with the silicon and destroying the chip, which is a big deal for implants to the eye.

Building on this, Auciello showed some impressive work being carried out by the firm Second Sight, which uses UNCD to coat its artificial retina devices. Second Sight’s 270 electode product dubbed Argus II has been implanted in 31 previously blind patients from the US, UK, France, Switzerland and Mexico, who can now read large letters and identify objects thanks to the Second Sight apparatus.

Another materials system that could benefit the eye is magnetic nanoparticles, in this case by improving surgery for attaching retinas that have come away from the back of the eye. Auciello and his colleagues have shown that magnetic nanoparticles can be injected into the eye and then manipulated using a remote magnetic source to steer the retina into position.

Bringing industry back to the MRS

Further reading on TMR+

MRS Fall 2013 highlights – part five (final)
MRS Fall 2013 highlights – part three
MRS Fall 2013 highlights – part two
MRS Fall 2013 highlights – part one