Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Laser Technology Can Improve Hearing

20.04.2012
The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) is developing innovative technologies for improved insertion techniques and exact fitting of cochlea implants in the inner ear, as well as better quality for residual hearing.

The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) is developing innovative technologies for improved insertion techniques and exact fitting of cochlea implants in the inner ear, as well as better quality for residual hearing. Current results will be presented the the LZH Stand at the Hannover Messe 2012, from April 23rd to 27th.


Cochlea implant with an external microphone and micro-speech-processor (illustration copyright: Cochlear)

Approximately 95% of all those who are highly hearing impaired have an adequately intact auditory nerve, enough to provide at least partial hearing. An important device for this process is a cochlea implant (CI), and electronical acoustic aid or prosthesis, which takes over the function of damaged sensory cells in the inner ear. This aid consists of an implant, which is placed in the bone, under the skin behind the ear, an electrode which is placed directly in the cochlea, and a microphone and speech processor, which is also placed behind the ear. The aid functions in this way: When sound waves are registered by the microphone, they are “translated” into a series of electrical impulses, which are then lead to the electrode on the auditory nerve in the inner ear.

The basilar membrane, which is covered by tiny sensory cells or hairs, can only provide optimal hearing if it is not damaged. If this membrane is damaged, this can lead to complete loss of residual hearing. This means that the cochlea electrode must be inserted extremely carefully, to avoid damage to the membrane.

The group “Surface Technology” at the LZH is currently working on a process to simplify the operation and improve the insertion technique of the electrode into the complicated form of the cochlea. In order to accomplish this, the scientists use the special properties of nickel-titanium shape memory alloys (NiTi-SMA) in manufacturing the CI electrodes.

By heating the electrode, or via electrical impulses, this material “remembers” the form or shape it was manufactured in, thus allowing specific movement and fitting of the electrode. On the one hand, laser melting is used to form the NiTi-SMA into a highly individual implant. On the other hand, the special characteristics of the material can be used to insert the implant into the cochlea without damaging the basilar membrane. Basically, the deeper the material is inserted into the cochlea and the better the fit, the better hearing can be.

At the Laser Zentrum Hannover, a second approach is also being used to optimize the characteristics of cochlea implants. The group Laser Micromachining has set a goal of improving the surface of implants by using laser structuring. “The surface of conventional cochlea implants is not subject to special treatment, and a great potential is lost! We have learned from mother nature that biological surfaces, for example of lotus leaves or shark skin, have defined structures for special functions” explains scientist Elena Fadeeva. By using a femtosecond laser, the platinum electrodes can be structured in a special way. Special nanostructures, looking very rough when magnified, can be manufactured, which reduce attachment of connective tissue and improve interaction with the nerve cells. Simultaneously, nanostructuring decreases frequency-dependent electrical resistance, meaning less energy is needed. The special challenge of this innovative development is that the structures must be made on an implant which is only 300 µm in diameter, and which has a curved surface. At the moment, the LZH is working on a unit, which can provide these complex structures on a very small scale.

Cochlea implants are especially interesting for people who, even with the best hearing aids, cannot understand spoken language well enough. Over 200,000 people worldwide could profit from these “artificial inner ears”. About half of the adults using CIs could even use the telephone again after sufficient training takes place. For those having shortly lost hearing, or for children, the success rate should be even higher.

Current activities at the LZH concerning cochlea implants are being financially supported within the framework of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) project Gentle CI, and by the interdisciplinary special research program 599 of the German Research Foundation (DFG). Among the project partners is the Hannover Medical School (MHH), which has the world’s largest cochlea implant program for the extremely hearing impaired.

Be sure to visit us at the Hannover Messe 2012 (April 23rd to 27th), in hall 17, stand C55.

Contact:
Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.
Michael Botts
Hollerithallee 8
D-30419 Hannover, Germany
Tel.: +49 511 2788-151
Fax: +49 511 2788-100
E-Mail: m.botts@lzh.de

The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) carries out research and development in the field of laser technology and is supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport of the State of Lower Saxony (Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Verkehr).

Michael Botts | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.
Further information:
http://www.lzh.de

More articles from Trade Fair News:

nachricht COMPAMED 2016 connected medical devices and people
23.11.2016 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik

nachricht Successfully transferring Industrie 4.0 into reality
21.11.2016 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

All articles from Trade Fair News >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>