Until now doctors have used expensive and complicated electronic devices which sent the measured data to the outside world as radio signals. On the other hand, according to Felix Gattiker of Empa’s Electronics, Metrology and Reliability Laboratory, an electronics-free sensor offers many advantages – not least of the financial kind. In the new Empa sensor the data is read out by means of an ultrasonic scanner.
The solution is in the form of a small, hollow spiral which sits on the implant together with a fluid reservoir. When the implant is subject to compression or tension the level of fluid in the spiral changes. This level is measured with the help of an ultrasonic device, and the resulting data allows the mechanical loading on the implant to be calculated.
The ultrasonic image is, however, too indistinct to allow the fluid level to be determined visually, so the Empa researchers decided to analyze the ultrasonic signal in more detail. They quickly found a dependence between the ultrasonic echo generated over the complete spiral and the actual fill level – the weaker the ultrasonic echo measured, the higher the level, and therefore the greater the force acting on the sensor.
Further research is already in the pipeline
The sensor produces reliable measurement data, as numerous experiments with artificial tissues – mixtures of gelling agent, glass ballotini and graphite powder, which depending on the mixing ratios allow different types of tissue to be simulated – have demonstrated. Not only that, it is also economic to manufacture, being very much cheaper than the existing electronic versions. The next step is to test the accuracy of the new method using various animal tissues, since each material has its own acoustic signature because it reflects and absorbs ultrasonic energy differently.
In addition, the Empa scientists are investigating the idea of making the sensor out of biodegradable materials, in which case the device would simply dissolve away in the patient’s body after completing its task. The surgeon need not therefore sharpen his scalpel a second time, there being no need to remove the sensor when the fracture has healed! And finally, there is the outstanding matter of finding an industrial partner to manufacture the sensors and integrate them into the implants.
Remigius Nideroest | alfa
2 million euros in funding for new MR-compatible electrophysiological brain implants
18.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für biologische Kybernetik
PET identifies which prostate cancer patients can benefit from salvage radiation treatment
05.12.2017 | Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
A study carried out by an international team of researchers and published in the journal Physical Review X shows that ion-trap technologies available today are suitable for building large-scale quantum computers. The scientists introduce trapped-ion quantum error correction protocols that detect and correct processing errors.
In order to reach their full potential, today’s quantum computer prototypes have to meet specific criteria: First, they have to be made bigger, which means...
Since 2016, German and Spanish researchers, among them scientists from the University of Göttingen, have been hunting for exoplanets with the “Carmenes”...
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
18.12.2017 | Information Technology
18.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.12.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science